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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 10:57 GMT
One billion children in crisis: Your reaction
Children in Kabul
We discussed children in crisis with Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of Unicef, in our global-phone in programme Talking Point.


Half of the world's children are denied their childhood through poverty, violent conflict or the scourge of HIV and Aids, according to Unicef.

A major report, The State of the World's Children, says that progress has been made to protect the welfare and human rights of children but there is still more to do.

Carol Bellamy, Unicef director said that "too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood... we've failed to deliver on the promise of childhood".

What is your reaction to the Unicef statistics? Who is at fault? What should be done to help children?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The international community should take responsibility for forcing all countries to protect children's rights.
Omar, Iraq

Much of child poverty wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for colonialism
Richard, Tokyo, Japan

There is too much poverty in the world and western countries should face up to the reality that much of child poverty wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for colonialism. I think President Chirac's idea of a global redistributive tax would be an excellent idea, especially for the children at Christmas time.
Richard, Tokyo, Japan

While governments work at eliminating corruption and relief organizations work at educating the population on birth control and family planning, couples in developed countries can do their bit by making less babies of their own and adopting some of these children.
Mimi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I think that people don't really understand what happens. There are different cultures and ways of living. They are maybe denied a Western childhood of playing and going to school but only the lucky children have that luxury. We should concentrate our efforts on those who are suffering real hardships such as children living on the street, being beaten up at home and losing the main breadwinners of the family at a young age. We can go out and try and move the whole Third world from developing to a developed one but this takes many years and needs people with clear facts and a vision for how it should happen.
Gordon, Dundee

When we as a people, use children as weapons, then we have too many children
Paul, Gainesville, USA

As a child who spent almost five years of my early childhood in an orphanage, I will always reach out my hand to help children no matter who they are. However, I do not feel any responsibility for countries that over-populate their land, waste their resources and look for others to rescue them all the while blaming "outside" forces for their lot. When we as a people, use children as weapons, then we have too many children.
Paul, Gainesville, FL, USA

End corruption and stealing from the public trough and you will end child poverty. Many of these countries are awash in natural resources. Where does the money go?
Sharon, USA

Today Indians boastfully say that India is one of the developing nations. But truly even today if you enter any small roadside motel, you will surely observe at least one boy aging around 10 works there as a labour to earn his living. Unicef along with national government has spent a lot for the deprived children to support them with a proper living and education. Yet we get to see such type of scenarios scattered all over the country. This is the toughest challenge for Unicef. It's not that fund isn't always properly executed, but proper development should occur simultaneously in all level of people, child or adult.
Dinesh Lakhani, Chennai, India

Children all over the world are having easier access to small arms than to education
Alberto Estevez, Vigo, Spain
There are over 639 small arms in the world. Governments must regulate the commerce of death and bring the unregulated arms trade under control. Children all over the world are having easier access to small arms than to education, health or other basic services. What is Unicef doing to promote Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programmes in countries involved in conflict or post-conflict situations. How do you envisage the adoption of an International Arms Trade Treaty that bans arms transfers leading to abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law?
Alberto Estevez, Vigo, Spain

Let's face it: the way how we currently govern life globally, has failed. One billion children with a "stolen" childhood are the final proof, and those who survive, have a right to be angry and call for retribution in 15 - 20 years. No evolution, no aid, no birth control, no revolution will cure anything. Finger pointing and/or lame excuses are a waste of time. I do not see any solution beyond my personal engagement, to better my life and the life of those I feel connected to, be it a starving child in overseas, a deprived child in the neighbourhood ghetto, an abused child next block.
Carlo Kashanre, Ashland, Oregon, US

American contributors are puzzled at why their country is the object of scorn. It is true, the US gives much aid - but with many strings attached. Right now the US has given a few billion to help Aids in Africa. What would make the money go MUCH further is the ability to buy generic drugs... yet the US is insisting that they must purchase the (expensive) branded products of US pharmaceuticals in order to benefit from this 'aid'.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

Until there is an international criminal court that prosecutes both corrupt leadership (who steal resources from these poor countries) and the banks in Western countries that keep the loot, billions more will be in crisis. Let us stop deceiving ourselves with issues like debt forgiveness and get real.
Emeka, Manchester, England

I live in a Third world country, specifically in Agusan del Sur which is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines where poverty and everything that goes with it can be seen literally. I am an active child's right advocate here and I am thankful for the aid that Unicef gives to Agusan del Sur. But there is still so much to be done... if only the matter of planning a family is not influenced by the Roman Catholic Priests of the Philippines then maybe we wont have a pressing problem on deprived and abused children. Population and family planning issues are somewhat like "taboo issues".
Naomi Abellana, Mindano, Philippines

I think most people use the term "deprived children" too freely in developed countries
Janet Tse, Hong Kong
I think most people use the term "deprived children" too freely in developed countries, which has resulted in children today taking its implications to the extreme. I feel that the statistics Unicef has published should be a wakeup call to us all that children without basic necessities such as food and water are those who should be considered "deprived" and not those without a mobile phone!
Janet Tse, Hong Kong

I have worked for the United Nations for over 12 years. Every time I enter a large conference room to hear national governments speak I think "as long as even only one child dies of starvation while we are discussing in this room we shall bear the shame of it". And sometimes I am afraid I am going to say aloud.
Francesco Pisano, Geneva, Suisse

No I feel no guilt. First I pay my taxes and the government uses this to fund Third world countries, so why should I give more? Second, if you don't have money don't have kids, easy.
Brian, Northampton, UK

Cancel all Third world debt. Give education to all. We as a country could easily afford to provide this most critical of resources. The results would take a decade to arise, but would be infinitely larger than any aid programmes we currently undertake.
Chris, UK

In response to the comment that maybe the US should divert 1% of what it spends on the war in Iraq to world poverty... the US already spends much more than that to help world poverty... it is the corrupt leaders of these countries who pocket the money that is donated that must be blamed.. not the US (again!).
Ann Cipriani, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

I think the rich and advanced countries not only should but must bear the biggest burden of such a serious problem
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Egypt
Really horrible statistics that the Unicef has announced. I think the rich and advanced countries not only should but must bear the biggest burden of such a serious problem. They should provide the poor countries with both money and highly-qualified social-care experts. On the other hand, the countries that have been spending huge amounts of money on weapons should render such big amounts on the welfare of those who have been long suffering from so miserable conditions.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt

Imagine that you won't go to heaven or some extra terrestrial hell but will re-incarnate somewhere on earth! You could easily end op being one of these deprived children. Does that get the message through to you?
Anton, India

We can tell our countries to make laws, send money for children in poverty, but what about doing something as an individual. Sponsor a child! Those kids do exist and get help from the donation you send. I visited my Compassion International and World Vision kids in the Dominican Republic - a wonderful experience!!
Paula Jeanne Damien, USA

This report doesn't bode well for the Millennium Development Goals. How can we hope to half the number of people living in extreme poverty in the next 10 years, if we can't even provide for these most vulnerable members of society? Certain commentators observe that the US is wasting money on frivolous enterprises, like reviving the space program.
P Bolton, US

It is horrible to think that so many children are suffering around the world. Those of us living in wealthy countries should continue to help eliminate this problem. However, the theme of guilt that is prevalent in most of the posts is misguided. The fact that real poverty in countries like the US is limited to the few people who for whatever reason do not take advantage of government welfare is at least a small victory for mankind.

The fact that we now have nations with political structures capable of eliminating true poverty should serve as a positive example for developing countries to follow. The real problem is not that the powerful countries do not care enough about the poor it is that the corrupt powerful in the poor countries do not care about their own people.
James, Austin, USA

I will continue to try to help, but I won't take the blame anymore
Tom Penn, Knoxville, USA
Governments, religions, cultures and communities are responsible for their own people. Parents are responsible for their own children. I don't have children that I cannot provide for. Third world governments, religious powers that be, and parents that cannot afford to provide sustenance for a child should take a page out of my book. Even in the third world a condom is less expensive than raising a child. Do they have no responsibility? Their populations continue to explode. I will continue to try to help, but I won't take the blame anymore.
Tom Penn, Knoxville, USA

To Tom Penn, USA: You should take the blame - it is Western countries such as yours and mine that cause this poverty, in order that we can continue to over indulge on pointless consumerism and stuff our faces with fast food. If you're not part of the solution pal, you're part of the problem.
Simon Moore, London, EU

Two words come to mind and they are 'conception control'. This disaster shows the human population out of sync with the planet and its resources. Reproductive education and most importantly condoms should be available and free for everyone.
Linda, Toronto, Canada

Only yesterday I was looking up my family history and I found that just two generations ago my grandfather was working when only 13-years-old. We have come a long way since then but other developing countries are simply going through what we have already. What should be of greatest concern is how the world is supposed to continue to feed the ever increasing number of children without poverty and disease increasing at the same rate... In nature all populations are controlled by the availability of food with just one exception...
Robert Lever, Oldham, England

Yes, just finish with the agricultural subsidies in the USA and Europe and this situation will rapidly reverse- and probably terrorism too! Damn, how is it that the West can be so blind and ignorant. In the end agricultural subsidies in the West just benefit wealthy people at the expense of the rest (including the middle and lower classes in the West itself, which are the ones who pay for such subsidies). It is so sad and frustrating.
Antonio Sanchez, London, UK

The insanity of allowing this kind of poverty, while touting the 1 billion dollars a day spent for the Iraq War as "spreading democracy & freedom", is another result of clinging to bad religions. If you believe in a supposed 'Supreme Being', then he is letting those children stave for a "Reason"... This insanity has to stop.
Steve, Hawaii

We have lost touch with humanity
Howard, Sacramento, USA
I look around our country, and see so much gluttony, greed, and a general disdain for the poor. It is so sad that billions of the world's children live with nothing, while we live in a culture that insists that we can never have enough. We have lost touch with humanity, plain and simple.
Howard, Sacramento, USA

Unfortunately dropping the debt won't help anything, The world must hold the corrupt leaders of these countries accountable for the plight of their people and take measures to ensure that any aid given to them is used in a proper manner.
Boris Forey, Singapore

In a world that is entrenched in war, hostilities and corruption, what do you expect? World peace is the answer. Our leaders should rid themselves of corruption and invest in the welfare of the masses. Emergency funds should be provided and diligently used to take care of people in distress not diverted like the Iraqi oil for food programme.
Kingsley Chimaobi Iheanacho, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

UK/US/Europe pumping billions to reduce global poverty is not only essential on moral grounds, but would enable a more coherent response to global issues such as terrorism and global warming.
David Jones, Warks, UK

People are starving because the wealthy want to stay that way
Dave, Canada
Many countries in the world are in the extreme economic margins because of the ridiculous tariffs and invisible barriers in place by the wealthy countries. How do we ever expect undeveloped countries to develop if they cannot sell us anything? We could start with sugar, on which the US has a 150% import tariff and the UK dominates the industry with sugar made from beets which is way less efficient than from cane. People are starving because the wealthy want to stay that way.
Dave, Canada

When an unmarried woman in a Western inner-city ghetto brings a child into poverty and crisis by having unprotected sex, lots of people blame her for the child's suffering. When a married man in a Third world refugee camp does exactly the same thing - bringing a child into poverty and crisis by having unprotected sex - many of these same people don't blame him! Instead, they blame Tony Blair, movie producers, warlords, the US, Israel, farm subsidies, astronauts, everyone but that man himself. More people should care enough for children to know better!
Hsifeng, NYC, USA

It's a sad situation that nobody can imagine until they've seen it first-hand. In reaction to everybody's view however, I think it's funny that everybody is quick to talk about how the West should help more, yet in another debate the same people will complain about how the US should stay out of half of these countries' affairs.
Anon, USA

A sea change will only come through education
Anuj Bahl, Delhi, India
We ought to be ashamed of ourselves and by that I mean each one of us, in every country. Children are the future and they are the responsibility of each parent and family. A sea change will only come through education. Education gives employment and awareness and both are antidotes to poverty and disease.
Anuj Bahl, Delhi, India

Carol Bellamy is right in putting the main blame on governments as one of the primary causes of the crisis. One has only to look at countries in conflict within their own borders and at armed intervention in other countries where the problem is most acute and manifestly clear. Few leaders are held to account, and then only selectively and after the event - not when evil policies and practises are in the making. People's rights, obligations and empowerment have to be strengthened at international levels with greater support to the UN and agencies dealing with the issue.
Saravan, UK

My husband and I have chosen to remain childless, a decision we made together. Unfortunately, in a still male-dominated world, many women have no part in that decision. In many areas, like the areas of Africa that are suffering so heavily from Aids, they don't even have a choice about whether or not they have sex. Until men take some responsibility worldwide for how many children they create, children who in many cases they don't stay around to support, we will continue to live with this problem.
Cayce, Vancouver, Canada

Be honest people. It isn't the debt or how much the West does or doesn't give that creates these problems. It is corrupt leadership in these countries. Third World "leaders" enrich themselves while the people starve and go without schools and commerce. Find leaders of integrity and hold them accountable to the world. Then you will start to solve the problems. Until then you're kidding yourself that any positive result is possible.
Jim H, Sudbury, USA

In many of the countries where these children live, the governments have squandered countless tens of millions, hundreds of millions, even billions on corruption, bureaucratic boondoggling, military equipment and wars while there was no program for birth control and no effort to improve the lot of their populace. Now they come again with those pitiful innocent faces begging for more money and forgiveness of the debts they incurred over decades of countless low interest loans and outright grants. At what point do we just say no or at least not until we see some radical changes so that there is some assurance that this plight will not be perpetual?
Mark, USA

it's possible to be a happy child in relative poverty.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA
To say one billion are 'deprived of their childhood' is a bit over-dramatic. Everyone has a childhood and it's possible to be a happy child in relative poverty. Wealth is not remembered from childhood as much as love and happiness. For those truly affected by the horrors of war or absolute famine and disease, some of the traits that help them survive such as turning to crime or violence will be the traits they carry into adulthood, which causes more strife and suffering. There should be interventions for these children to break that cycle in the affected societies.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA

Perhaps the US Government should divert 1% of the amount it spends on defence into combating child poverty. Not only would this go a long way towards helping poor children but also the goodwill this would generate for the US would do more for its defence than a few extra planes and tanks.
Jon, London, UK

This is no surprise. So, what is the UN going to do now? They will continue to talk about resolutions and line their pockets with blood and oil money while these children wallow in poverty. Nothing will change as a result of this report, other than more children being born into deplorable conditions.
Drew, San Fernando, Trinidad

Population growth continues to climb. Complacency and corruption in impoverished nations governments contributes to the problem as well. These facts are not justification to stop sending aid. However, by overlooking them and just blaming wealthy nations for the problem, they do not get addressed. That too is a terrible injustice these children do not deserve.
Eric H, Seattle, WA

The children are our future. The Aids epidemic is far reaching into their lives and we must do and give whatever we can to give these children a chance. Even if we can only affect a few children and their families, it is our duty as members of the human race to participate in the fight for this cause.
John Harris, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA

One billion children are suffering with poverty and yet here we are dealing with this so-called war on terrorism
Mohammad, Toronto, Canada
One billion children are suffering with poverty and yet here we are dealing with this so-called war on terrorism. The leaders of the so-called civilised nations must put strong emphasis on eradicating poverty worldwide rather than trying to protect and promote their corrupt interests. Only than will the world be a just and happy place.
Mohammad, Toronto, Canada

Let's not go down the tired "white mans' burden path." How about rearing fewer children through the use of contraception? Taking some personal responsibility instead of coming to the Western trough?
Chris, California

Simply handing out aid does not tackle the route of the problem. Developing nations need to be able to stand on their own two feet and fend for themselves. This can never happen so long as developed nations continue to burden impoverished countries with crippling interest payments on loans used to purchase weapons. Scrap the debt and open up fairer trade, poorer nations will then be in a position to better care for themselves!
DW, Chicago USA

It is easy to blame governments for all the ills of the world but it is about time we started talking about personal responsibilities of the people who bring the children into the world. As long as it is considered a human right to procreate regardless of the ability of parents to take an appropriate parenting role (feeding, clothing, nurturing) then we will continue to have this problem. When you have a limited capacity and resources then it is much easier to give one child a good chance than it is to try and make your available resources spread over half a dozen kids.
Chris, Australia

While nations like the USA and those of the EU must offer more help and forgive third-world debt, the leadership in developing nations is equally important. It seems there are too few leaders in the Third world who seek a better future for their people and too many power-hungry brutes out for their own good or who run their nation into the ground with incompetence.
Jan Burton, Toronto, Canada

Education will eradicate poverty and this is what these children need
Jennifer Ogah, Nigeria
Instead of rich countries giving fish to poor countries, they must teach them how to fish. Education will eradicate poverty and this is what these children need, they are the future.
Jennifer Ogah, Nigeria

The main cause of poverty in the world is the rampant form of capitalism as practised by the West. Now, all over the world profit comes before all else. There must at least now be a cancellation of Third World debt. Better late than never. Let the poor countries develop on their own terms.
Rundhi Gunapala, Ilford, United Kingdom

Once again, the BBC throws out a world problem and all that gets published are views excoriating the US for failing to solve the problem. It is such a tired and pathetic theme that it's not even worth debating. The US is to blame for all the world's ills, right?
Henry, California, USA

I live in one of the "Third world" countries with its share of poverty, lack of access for millions of people to basic amenities, illiteracy, unemployment to name a few. The children however remain the brightest rays of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. The recent story of a young Dalit boy who put himself through school and later on college while working as a labourer on a tea estate is a case in point. He has won a Fulbright scholarship to study in the US. I wish that the developed nations would take note that education is the biggest weapon in their arsenal. Knowledge would go a long way in combating the threats of terrorism, than bombing the people out of their homes and life.
Seema Sreenivas, Kochi, India

This forum is just another way to bash American foreign policy. So many think we can just drop what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and devote all our resources to relieving poverty and disease. This report is nothing we didn't know; it is still a horrible tragedy. However, the US can't stop what we are doing in the War on Terror. Of course, even if we were to devote all our resources to relieving poverty, the world soon demand we respond to another issue, like the environment.
Tim, Bethesda, MD, USA

There is little which could be considered more evil than the global economic and social structures that allow one billion children to live in poverty and desperation. We must demand that our governments forgive the debts owed by developing nations!
Linsay Martens, Regina, Canada

Wars and other man-made disasters must be avoided. In many countries masses are illiterate and ignorant. They have a large number of children who are denied education. Only educated and informed parents can demand and fight for the rights of children. They have been let down and exploited and abused by the "educated' and the affluent.
RN Srivastava, New Delhi, India

Simple solution: we are spending one billion per week, yes per week, on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we spent half of that on poverty and illiteracy, then we would not have had the need to spend on warfare.
MEY, Rochester, USA

I am glad Mrs Bellamy has called attention to this issue. Once there was a leader who said something like "little children come unto me." Somehow in our religious fervour and moral value quest we have lost that sense of compassion and love. Perhaps our focus is too much on energy reserves and pipeline directions.
Thomas A Lucas, Montezuma, GA, US

This will always be a problem as long as global corporations exploit starving children and use them as cheap labour to increase the bottom line. Profits, to them, always come first. Life is a secondary concern.
Fischer, USA

The United States has let these children down. We give a far less percentage of our budget to help the needy in foreign countries. Instead, we spend billions on destruction and war, what happened to our moral obligation to protect human rights? Shame on us.
Brendan K, Boston, USA

It is tragic but what are we, normal people, supposed to do! We give to a charity that is so tied up in bureaucracy that most of the money is wasted. Governments seem only to be interested in how any actions would affect the economy and in most of the countries affected the leaderships are so corrupt that any funds only go to fill the bank accounts of a few. And then on top comes war, disease, famine, environmental degradation. The world as a whole is a disgrace and the brunt is and will be borne by children.
MJA, Germany

There is a choice in giving
Vernon, Nashville, USA
MJA rightly laments how charitable gifts go down a UN rat hole of bureaucracy, but there is a choice in giving. Many church-affiliated relief groups are very diligent about money, and have a huge impact on the lives of the poor.
Vernon, Nashville, USA

Does anyone who reports on this data ever ask, why so many kids? Do you care about your kids? Is having another kid, good for the kids you have? That would be some interesting reporting, not, oh look, another problem the West (let's face it they mean the US) has caused or isn't fixing immediately.
Greg, California, US

Wars and governments typically benefit the powerful at the cost of everyone. The typical price of amassing huge amounts of wealth for a few people is the creation of huge amounts of poor people. Within 20 years the world will see massive amounts of poverty even in the US because our policies do not protect our poor!
David Stephen Ball-Romney, Seattle, USA

We need an economic system based on solidarity and peoples need not CEOs and targets
Konstantinos, UK
The current global economic system will continue killing more and more children. We need an economic system based on solidarity and peoples need not CEOs and targets. We need participatory economy. We need to be informed and act now.
Konstantinos, UK

It all boils down to one simple issue: Over-population. If we want the world to end poverty, the first step needs to be to end immigration and then to spread birth control. We are hiding the true issues of over-breeding by allowing people to leave the countries where populations are the densest. The UN needs to penalise any government that allows an average of more than 2 children per family. That will end poverty and make us deal with the issue of cheap labour: the real reason we allow poor countries to stay poor and to let their children immigrate to our nations.
Josh, Adelaide, South Australia

This is a shocking report, illustrating what we knew all along, If only our leaders were as accountable to children as they are to multi-nationals and campaign donors.
Sam, Bradford, UK

This just goes to show that all the high-minded rhetoric of aid organisations is not working. Attempting to cure the symptoms of poverty, war, and disease is futile without addressing the causes of those problems.
Sasha, Zagreb, Croatia

Pointing fingers and blaming each other only clouds the issue and postpones any real progress
GG, Portland, OR, USA
Many of the world's starving children live right here in the United States. This is not just a third world problem. The fact remains that we need to take care of the children. They are the future of the world. We are in this world together, and we must help this situation together. Pointing fingers and blaming each other only clouds the issue and postpones any real progress.
GG, Portland, OR, USA

I know there are starving children in other countries I don't need a paper to tell me that. I ask myself if every country has its money problems why is it that when it comes to war there's a bottomless pit for money? If everyone put their weapons down and sorted their own countries out perhaps we would all be a bit happier.
Maryann, UK

As long as the American media portray violence as normal and entertaining and men are not seen as accountable for both the children they bear and to clean up the mess of their violence, we will have starving children and abused people.
Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, Burlington, Ontario Canada

I see many comments attacking wealth on this page. How many people who were not wealthy have given jobs that support families and feed children? More wealth is the answer to this problem, not the enemy.
Jason, Detroit, USA

This report is an indictment of our bad and indecent behaviour
Kwok Ho, Sydney, Australia

This report is an indictment of our bad and indecent behaviour. When our children (our future) are so thoroughly neglected, we should hang our collective head in shame. This includes ALL countries, rich and poor.
Kwok Ho, Sydney, Australia

It is a shame on all humanity that one out of every six people on this planet earth is suffering so badly. Yet here in the US we are spending trillions of dollars to explore existence of life on other planets. I believe a lot can be achieved if even a fraction of what is spent by the western countries in useless ventures is diverted towards helping these underprivileged children.
Ashish, USA

One billion hungry children may grow into one billion angry adults. Easing poverty would do more to make the world safer than Bush's endless "war against terror," and for less money.
Matthew, San Francisco, USA

You just can't talk about helping the children, while you keep on supplying arms
MK, Nepa
Developed countries think giving aid to poor countries will help the situation, but at the same time they forget they are the ones contributing to some of the major problems in the developing world. Being from a country currently at a civil war, I feel that unless the (developed) countries stop selling arms (in whatever name they call it: maintaining peace, killing terrorists), the situation won't improve. You just can't talk about helping the children, while you keep on supplying arms, which will eventually kill those children!
MK, Nepal

Oh my! While I knew this, to see it in print is incomprehensible. While watching television last night, they showed the making of a movie where one chandelier cost $1.3 million dollars and was to be destroyed in seconds during the filming. Need I say more? The glorification of wealth in America is sickening given the greater need worldwide. Humanity has gone mad. Individualism and materialism is rampant. If those who have millions waste it on frivolous glory, the ghosts of these children will haunt this world until the end.
Halimah Duncan, East Point, GA, USA

It's humbling and shaming when you read a report like this about the dreadful conditions suffered by children in some parts of the world. Only yesterday, there was a report on the number of UK children "living in poverty". But seeing what poverty is really like certainly puts this more into perspective - how can we be crying that British children are under-privileged?
Jenni, England

To Jenni, England: Take a walk around some of the housing schemes near Glasgow and tell me that certain British kids aren't under privileged. Most are clinically malnourished and their life expectancy is 20 years less than average. Most only have one parent and virtually all will know one relative with a heroin addiction.
Peter, Nottingham

To Peter, Nottingham: At least "under privileged" in the UK has access to education, healthcare, clean water and a roof over their heads. As Westerners we cannot begin to comprehend what these people go through. Our minor daily problems are nothing compared to theirs.
Dave, Melbourne, Australia

Let developing countries trade their goods freely and fairly
Jessie, New York
The best thing that can be done to help children - and all those suffering from cycles of poverty and violence - is to scrap damaging farm subsidies in the EU and the USA. Let developing countries trade their goods freely and fairly and billions would flow into their suffering infrastructures.
Jessie, New York

Surely 'childhood' is something that only privileged children have been able to experience in rich countries such as the UK? Everywhere else, life/survival goes on as normal. Of course it would be good to look after the world's children and I hope things improve, but this is not a new 'problem' - it's been with us since time began.
Ade, Dudley, UK

It is a tragic state of affairs that nearly 30,000 people starve to death every day when millions of others in the West live in such affluence and comfort that obesity is growing in epidemic proportions.
Nadeem Azam, London

If one billion children going through crisis, poverty, and violent conflicts, that means that at least a quarter of billion women are suffering with them too. There is no place where children suffer and mothers don't. Think about it!
Agha Ata, Houston, USA

What is the promise of childhood? The kids in this picture look happy! People tend to underestimate children and their abilities to adapt.
Sarah, Brussels

Is there any wonder that terrorists and other ideologues have such fertile ground for recruitment? I am not so concerned about casting blame since there is plenty to go around, but if we do not work hard to improve the situation we will all ultimately pay the consequences for years and decades to come.
John, NJ, USA

Liberating these children needs to be more aggressively promoted
John Holmes, Canada
Many cultures firmly believe that "childhood", as the western world tends to know it, ends at puberty. That can occur earlier in high stress situations, as are common in many areas of the world (thus as early as 10-12 years old). Cultures that have very conservative traditions, tend to allow only a short childhood consistent with social conditions a thousand or more years ago, when life expectancy was much shorter than today's averages. In these situations the beliefs about "childhood" are as much a part of religion as are concepts of martyrdom or the afterlife. Until secular and enlightened governments overcome traditional ignorance and its social practices there is little hope for many of the world's children. Human rights and freedoms, liberating children, from being the most innocent victims of archaic tradition, need to be more aggressively promoted, by the world community.
John Holmes, Canada

Blaming others is not the issue as we are all to blame. We need to sit down and think about all the 'silly' things our money is going to (i.e. the unused millennium dome) which cost enough to feed millions of people for more than a decade. Would you want someone you cared for to die through hunger when others throw away food? As a race, we need to get together and act - like the humans we are.
Anon, London

Rather than Tony Blair twittering on during Band Aid 20 about how the UK is going to help the developing world, he should actually state categorically that the UK will drop the debt from many countries, actually name the countries, and provide a date. Hopefully then, others would follow suit.
Craig, United Kingdom

Why don't we just divide and share?
Aaron, UK
There is enough resources - be it food, oil, water, money - whatever, to fulfil everyone in the world five times over. Why must we rely on give and take? Why don't we just divide and share?
Aaron, UK

As a child caretaker, I am really saddened by the fact that so many children are on the brink of death and are suffering from malnutrition and diseases. Children in Singapore are so lucky, yet that do not appreciate what they have. Only through community work and sharing of ideas can stop this trend from increasing. Being a volunteer, one can realise what is precious to them.
Chua Yunjia, Singapore

I guess instead of spending a few hundred million dollars to help out the poor and suffering people in the Third World now, the western powers such as the US and the UK would rather spend billions of dollars shooting and bombing them as terrorists and insurgents later. Even if the right-wing parties of all western nations look at it as a strictly cost/benefit issue (as they do with most) it would seem to be a better investment to help now. Granted, it's not as macho as beating our collective chests and slaughtering the "enemy" is, but I'm sure the Bush/Blair supporters would soon get over it.
Randy , Los Angeles CA USA

If birth control had been easily accessible then most of these children would probably not have been born
Meli, Canada
If birth control had been easily accessible then most of these children would probably not have been born. Birth control needs to be more easily available in Third World countries.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

Today Red Cross people came to our class and asked what was a big disaster going on in Darfur. nobody knew about it. Sadly, people don't know about distant people's plight and unfortunely, these people are forgotten.
Meli, Canada

Hahaha , nothing about your police thwarting a Madrid style attack, instead "One billion children in crisis!" and everybody blames it all on the US. Once again the BBC is pathetic, short-sighted and just plain stupid. Not to mention the only people who "get their say" are extreme critics of my country.
Bane, Richmond Virginia

Posters here labour under the delusion that poverty equals terrorism. If that were true, Africa would be a hotbed of terrorism. The 9/11 attackers were attending college in Germany and were from wealthy Saudi Arabia. It is Islamic fundamentalism and its drive to plunge the world into another medieval dark age that is the driver of terrorism.
Gerod Wattier, Carnation, WA USA

The world has an almost unlimited ability to produce starving babies, as Thomas Malthus observed long ago
Phil, Seattle, USA
The world has an almost unlimited ability to produce starving babies, as Thomas Malthus observed long ago. There's no way out of the situation, except that war, disease, and starvation will ultimately limit the world's population. Supplying more food will only postpone the inevitable.
Phil, Seattle, USA

In regard to Matthew, San Francisco. It is a proven fact that poverty does not increase the chance of terror.
Justin Hughes, Tacoma, USA

The only serious effort at population control which is in China has failed as evidenced by a steadily growing population. Most third world governments don't care or they wouldn't stand for child labour, child armies, child abuse by parents, trafficking in child sex, and the kind of tragedies we see in Darfur where so many of the victims are children. Only in the most advanced countries among the wealthier classes are the rights and welfare of children taken seriously. You can't force people to love children.
Mark, USA

If we want to show the world we care about them, thus winning hearts and minds, coming up with a clear program for education, clean water and basic food for the next generations would take us further down that path than force at this point in my opinion.
Jan Swann, Corpus Christi, TX USA

If families in the Third World had fewer children, they would be better able to provide for them
Graeme Phillips, Guildford, UK
The fact that the figure has reached one billion shows the Third Word's irresponsibility when it comes to child-bearing. If families in the Third World had fewer children, they would be better able to provide for them, meaning that we wouldn't be hearing this one billion figure. Stop blaming the West for your malaise and sort yourselves out!
Graeme Phillips, Guildford, UK

I bet these children are not from the US, Canada, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, France, Germany or Italy. Which means they are in crisis because of politics. The politics of totalitarianism, oppression, communism, dictatorship, whatever you want to call it. So, why don't we save them by changing the political reality? No, it is much easier to just throw money at the situation making dictators wealthier at the same time feeling good about ourselves because we've "done our part".
Michael S. Nowak, Pittsburgh, USA

The ubiquitous 'for profit' system cannot address this problem as no one has yet devised a mechanism for making a profit out of starving children.
Nicholas A Weber, Oakland. CA. USA

Unfortunately the condition in which children live in will not improve as long as the government is corrupt. We "average" people will continue to help through charities and so on, but unless the money goes directly to theses starving children they will continue to starve as the government stuffs their pockets with money to be spent on military supplies and wars on "terror".
Yasmeen, San Francisco

Our media conglomerates will not disturb us with the ugly details
Tom McGoff, Moscow PA, USA
Ignorance, insatiable greed and religious extremism are rising with the tide of world population. One billion children in crisis are merely another asset for government leaders, corporations, fanatics and persons of obscene wealth to use. The Peoples Republic of China may by example over the next 50 years and lead the world to a better place. But, I am not very optimistic. Dont look to the United States of America for answers. Fifty-nine million Americans voted for George W. Bush. Sadly, we have neither the desire nor the intelligence to lend a hand to one billion children in crisis. And, our media conglomerates will not disturb us with the ugly details.
Tom McGoff, Moscow PA, USA

Living in a state that borders Mexico, I have seen first hand the results of Third World poverty. It is truly appalling the conditions that the children are raised in; no money, no running water, dirty streets, constant begging, no shoes, no food, and no hope, especially in Juarez. Until everyone of us who has had some advantage visits a Third World country, we will never fully understand the crisis we are facing.
Jenna, Austin, Texas, USA

One should remember our children are the results of our seeds. We planted and grew but did not stay to reap the rewards. Unfortunately, many see them as fodder for the next war.
Mike, Luton, Uk

To Maryann, UK: You forget that half the weapons out there are used to defend helpless children. You ideal is respectable, but completely unrealistic and ignorant.
Jason, Detroit, USA

This problem is nothing to do with overpopulation and all to do with uncontrolled greed and materialism in the West
Vish, UK
This problem is nothing to do with overpopulation and all to do with uncontrolled greed and materialism in the West. No matter what the Adam Smith institute says, for someone to be stupidly wealthy a million people have to live in abject poverty. A cancelling of all third world debt, the massive fining of companies or their "partners" that use child labour sweatshops and a realisation in the west that if we want cheap goods then we are directly responsible for this suffering. Big Pharma should be forced to stop letting people die for profit and arms companies should be massively taxed to pay reparations for the damage that their products do.
Vish, UK

To GG, Portland OR. USA: To find a starving child in America would be extremely rare. Less than 1/100th of 1 percent or less. Poverty. Yes, by American standards. But in America, most considered in poverty own a car, have two televisions, air conditioning and cellular phone service.
Jason, Detroit, USA

Improvement in the welfare and rights of children are only possible when they are in tandem with improvements for the mothers. When mothers are treated subserviently it is inevitable that children will be as well.
Jayne Edwards, Staffordshire England

Children are our future and look how many of them are suffering. Look how many of them may not make it to adulthood. We should all feel bad for these children and we should all do our part to help them in some way. The government puts children on the backburner...helping children, educating them, feeding them, healing them. There won't be anyone left to govern if we don't take care of our children now.
Reena, USA

This is the reality of globalization and unchecked birth rates. If we cannot care for the smallest among us then we are failing humanity. When adults tape a grenade to a child's chest and instructs the child to walk into a crowd and pull the pin we have made too many children and cheapened their value as loved ones into that of a mere weapon. When we as a world accept a lesser value on the children of the world, we have doomed ourselves as a species.
Paul, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Every human being has the right to a dignified existence and access to basic necessities
Zara, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA
Every human being has the right to a dignified existence and access to basic necessities. The US citizen only contributes approximately 1/10 of 1% through the government as aid to developing nations. This figure lags sorely behind a number of Western European nations' contributions, which are 14-17 times that much. The old cost of living argument is only a crude excuse when explaining why there are huge portions of populations existing on only $1 a day.

Although some find it easy to argue nonsensically about quality of life paradigms (i.e. human rights/ health issues), one simply cannot deny the facts. These countries have been a part and parcel of the economic growth and security that "westerners" have come to expect. Its like trying to rub out a reflection, albeit a pitiable one. So what have I done in response? On a student budget, Ive committed to donating $100 dollars/month to a local relief agency in my community of choice.

Where it might have been used to purchase a sweater or dinner, it is used to gain access to medicines, corrective lenses, shoes or even a seat at a primary school. But monetary contribution isnt the only option. During the summer season, I translate at the hospital for children at the paediatrics ward and for women at immigration services.
Zara, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA

Too many governments are puppets under the hands of mega TNCs who don't care about people, children or the environment. Wealth and economic growth is not the answer if the distribution of it just increases the gap between the rich and poor, which is what we've been seeing all this time. Economic development, (along with sound education), should occur at a smaller, local scale.
Nima Raghu, College Park, USA




SEE ALSO:
UN warns of triple child scourges
06 Dec 04 |  South Asia
UN issues child poverty warning
13 Oct 04 |  Europe
Scraping a living on Peru streets
12 Jun 04 |  Americas
1m French children 'in poverty'
17 Feb 04 |  Europe


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