U.N. Details Grim Trends for Poorest Children ; Benchmarks Set in 2000 May Have Hurt Progress, Report by UNICEF Says

By Gladstone, Rick | International New York Times, June 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

U.N. Details Grim Trends for Poorest Children ; Benchmarks Set in 2000 May Have Hurt Progress, Report by UNICEF Says


Gladstone, Rick, International New York Times


The United Nations Children's Fund said improvements in national averages had obscured worsening trends among the world's poorest children.

Unicef is warning of what it describes as grim trend lines for the world's poorest children over the next 15 years, saying in a new report that many millions face preventable deaths, diseases, stunted growth and illiteracy.

The forecasts in the report, released on Monday by Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, suggested that despite reductions of poverty and other deprivations in underdeveloped countries since 2000, as seen in improved national averages, those statistics had obscured a worsening trend among the poorest segments of their populations and may have impeded overall progress.

The report was described by Unicef officials as its "final report card" on whether children had been helped by the Millennium Development Goals, a group of benchmarks established by the United Nations in 2000 for measuring progress in reducing poverty, hunger, child mortality, gender inequality, illiteracy and environmental degradation by the end of 2015. These goals are to be superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals, a group of benchmarks for measuring further advances by the end of 2030, which will be a major theme at the General Assembly annual meeting in September.

While the Millennium Development Goals contributed to "tremendous progress for children," the report said, they also may have indirectly caused the opposite, by inadvertently encouraging nations to measure progress through national averages. "In the rush to make that progress, many focused on the easiest-to-reach children and communities, not those in greatest need," Anthony Lake, the Unicef executive director, said in the introduction to the report. …

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