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Islamic States Plan To Help 1/4 Worlds Children

Islamic States Gather At Un-Backed Meeting To Aid Quarter Of World’s Children

With some 4.3 million children under five dying each year from preventable disease and malnutrition in Islamic countries, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is co-organizing a three-day meeting in Rabat, Morocco, intended to make a lasting difference for more than a quarter of the world’s children.

“I can think of no better focus for Islamic solidarity than the welfare of children, and I congratulate the OIC, ISESCO and UNICEF on this important initiative,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to yesterday’s opening session, referring to the other two sponsors - the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

OIC Member States account for a quarter of the world’s 2.3 billion children in nations spanning Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Meeting the needs and guaranteeing the rights of children in Islamic countries will in large part determine the success of overall efforts to combat poverty, accelerate human development and promote global peace and security, UNICEF said.

“There are many noteworthy examples of progress for children in Islamic countries, but the situation for a disproportionate number of them continues to be a cause for grave concern,” the agency’s Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah told the more than 200 participants from almost 50 states and nearly 20 international organizations gathered in the Moroccan capital.

The conference is focussing on issues specific to OIC member countries under four major themes: health and HIV/AIDS; quality education and culture; protection against abuse, exploitation and violence; and mobilizing resources. Recommendations will be submitted to the next sessions of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers and the Islamic Summit.

In OIC countries, about 6 million children under five suffer from malnutrition in the form of stunted growth, about 23 per cent of the total population have no access to safe drinking water, and 45 per cent lack adequate sanitation. Children in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, are facing a deadly combination of armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and poverty.

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