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UNICEF 2024 report warns of increased risks to children amid global challenges

UNITED NATIONS | Xinhua | The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the year 2024 would be a challenging one for children globally in its annual flagship study released Monday.

“Prospects for Children 2024: Cooperation in a Fragmented World” forecasts increased exposure of children to violence, war, and economic hardship, shaped by “ongoing global conflicts and economic uncertainties.”

The report identifies escalating global tensions as a primary threat to children’s rights and lives. “The prospects of conflict… will be driven by escalating competition among world powers,” the report notes, emphasizing the diversion of crucial resources from children’s education, healthcare, and nutrition.

Slow economic growth is adversely impacting child poverty reduction efforts, limiting young people’s access to global job markets. The report suggests that “economic solidarity, market collaboration, and investment in future skills” are essential to safeguard children, especially as international trade faces challenges like distrust and protectionism.

UNICEF expresses concern over “the fragmented multilateral system’s inability” to address key child-related issues, which hampers efforts to tackle child rights violations and the climate crisis.

The report urges “a reset” in 2024 through “stronger collective action and reforms” in global governance and financing.

The report also highlights “structural fiscal inequities” in developing economies, limiting these countries’ ability to invest in children, with many families relying on remittances for health and education costs.

The transition to green energy, while beneficial, poses risks to children in areas like labor practices. Additionally, environmental challenges like El Nino, mosquito-borne diseases, and water scarcity threaten children’s health and well-being.

The report raises concerns about the “unchecked impacts of technologies” like AI, advocating for child-centered and responsible regulation.

The report argues for a renewal of “the cooperative spirit” of the post-World War II era, emphasizing the need for financing reforms, political accountability, solidarity, and proactive social policies. Such an approach, the report suggests, can ensure children “inherit an inclusive, resilient society.”

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