Poverty Amidst Plenty for 1.2 billion, UNICEF reports FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 19:06:59 -0800 (PST)

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Masked behind statistics of economic boom, pockets of poverty
deepen, even in the world's richest nations.  Why?

"In New York city, for example, the percentage of children born
into poverty rose from 44 percent to 52 percent from 1990 to 1996,
and the number of homeless children rose 21 percent during the
same period." -- ''State of the World's Children, 2000'' UNICEF

FWD  Inter Press Service - December 13, 1999


     By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 13 (IPS) - Some 1.5 trillion dollars slosh
around global currency markets daily while more than 1.2 billion
people - including 600 million children - throughout the world ,
live on less than a dollar a day, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)
said Monday.

   Pointing to this paradox, and the growing inequities between
the world's rich and poor, UNICEF said that in 1960 the income gap
between the richest one-fifth of the world's population and the
poorest was 30-1.  In 1977 it was 74-1.

   While the average per capita income in 40 countries had grown
by more than 3.0 percent each year since 1990, 55 countries saw
seen a decline during the same period and more than 80 countries
now had per capita incomes lower than a decade ago, UNICEF said.

  ''The world has the resources and experience to know what works
for children. The time has come for us to put our words into
action,'' said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.

   ''If we do,'' she predicted, ''we can make significant changes
for children within a single generation.''

    In its annual ''State of the World's Children, 2000''  UNICEF
said that children and women were the first to suffer when crises
ripped the covers off seemingly prosperous countries to reveal the
poverty that existed.

   Although the financial crisis, which began in mid-1997,
appeared to be subsiding in East Asia, the human crisis continued,
according to the study.

   Twelve percent of the populations of both South Korea and
Thailand had fallen into poverty and once again, women and
children had borne the brunt, the report said.

   Between April 1997 and April 1998 in South Korea, employment
dropped by 7.0 percent among women compared with 3.8 percent job
loss for men.

	Among students, the high school drop-out in South Korea rose 36
percent, while in Thailand, as many as 130,000 students left
school. In Indonesia, with parents unable to afford school fees,
about 20 percent of all girls and 14 percent of the boys in the
poorer areas of Jakarta dropped out of junior secondary schools in

   ''The rising number of uneducated children threatens to create
a lost generation, ensuring that the fallout of the current crisis
will endure for generations,'' the study said.

   Similarly, the economic turmoil in the former Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe had caused 120 million people, almost 30 percent of
the people in the region, to sink into poverty since 1990.

   Again, children figured prominently among the victims. In the
Russian Federation, 50 percent of families with three or more
children, and 72 percent of those with four or more children were
impoverished, according to UNICEF.

   Even in countries that had robust economic growth, the study
said, poverty was paralysing progress - such as in parts of Latin
America, where the poorest 20 percent of people shared less than
3.0 percent of national income.

  In contrast, the study pointed out, countries such as Costa
Rica, Cuba, Sri Lanka and Vietnam had shown that, even against
international political odds, consistent policies aimed at
providing a solid foundation of social services paid off, in
better health conditions and higher literacy rates than those
found in many countries with greater economic resources.

   In still other countries, ''deepening pockets of poverty are
masked in average national statistics,''  the report said.

   In New York city, for example, the percentage of children born
into poverty rose from 44 percent to 52 percent from 1990 to 1996,
and the number of homeless children rose 21 percent during the
same period.

   The study also said that the number of people living in poverty
continued to increase as globalisation - ''one of the 20th
century's most powerful economic phenomena - proceeds along its
inherently asymmetrical course.''

   Globalisation was expanding markets across national boundaries
and increasing the incomes of a relative few while further
strangling the lives of those without the resources to be
investors or the capabilities to benefit from the global culture,
the report said.

   ''The majority are women and children, poor before, but even
more so now, as the two-tiered world economy widens the gaps
between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor


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