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Nelson Mandela speaks to the BBC
"Unicef is doing a good job, and the rich countries are responding, but not quite enough"
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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Mandela launches children's appeal

Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel (left)
Former South African president Nelson Mandela and his wife have announced a world summit whose aim will be to help shield children from war, disease and povery.

The meeting will be held in September in Winnipeg, Canada.

Launching the initiative for the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) Mr Mandela and Graca Machel urged world leaders to head a new movement dedicated to improving the lives of children.

In a BBC interview, Mr Mandela said it was a highly complicated issue and did not attract enough support.

Unicef estimates that at least 2 million children have been killed during conflicts over the last decade. A further 6 million have been seriously injured.

Dogged determination

Mr Mandela said world leaders were accountable for the wellbeing of children. The aim of the summit was to "get specific commitments from these leaders and specific results".


We intend to press the point that leaders everywhere at every level are accountable

Graca Machel
"Graca and I pledge our energies to building a global partnership of leaders from every sector and every calling who share a dogged determination to change the way the world sees our children and the way the world treats our children," Mr Mandela said in a speech announcing the initiative in Johannesburg.

In an interview with the BBC Mr Mandela praised the work of Unicef.

"Unicef is doing a good job, and the rich countries are responding, but not quite enough. Our job is to accelerate that process," Mr Mandela said.

Education

Ms Machel, the former wife of Mozambican President Samora Machel, said children were increasingly becoming targets in wars and not just conscripts and incidental casualties.


Karen rebel boy soldiers in Burma
"We intend to press the point that leaders everywhere at every level are accountable, and, as such, must exercise their responsibility to use their position and their power to lead," Ms Machel said.

Education was a vital tool in helping children to heal and overcome their trauma from war, she said.

Ms Machel is the author of a UN report on the impact of conflict on children.

Government action

Carol Bellamy, Unicef's executive director said government action was vital, but on its own was not enough.

"We believe that a sweeping and empowering movement can be created by forming a global partnership between the private sector and those already looking for change - non-governmental organisations, philanthropies, governments, and the vast constituencies to be found among the poor and the young," Ms Bellamy said.

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See also:

25 Jun 99 | Africa
The child victims of war
22 Jun 98 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's children of war
06 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Peacekeepers kill Timor rebels
20 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Picture gallery: Peacekeepers go in
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