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Article: “UNICEF calls on governments to ensure rights of indigenous children”

Recently, I found a number of articles about the situation of indigenous peoples world wide. Not least the following one, which surprisingly mentions indigenous peoples in Cambodia. So I thought I post it here. Moreover, as I keep reading many articles related in different ways to cultural diversity, I decided to make the relevant pieces available in this blogg.

UNICEF calls on governments to ensure rights of indigenous children
CIARAN GILES, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2004
©2004 Associated Press

UNICEF has urged governments worldwide to take greater responsibility in ensuring the rights of indigenous children, whom it described as one of the most marginalized groups.
A study, drawn up by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Center, said 300 million indigenous peoples, spread across more than 70 countries, have far less access to health and education compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. Children suffered the worst, it said.
“The responsibility to promote and protect the human rights of indigenous children is universal,” Carol Bellamy, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, said Wednesday at the launching of the report.
“Indigenous people live with a legacy of oppression, exclusion and extreme poverty,” she added.
Bellamy said the aim of the report, “Ensuring the Rights of Indigenous Children,” was “to see that this issue is placed squarely and unambiguously on the agenda of every government.”
The most pressing problems concerned health and education.
“One way to make indigenous children less invisible right from the beginning is birth registration,” said Bellamy. “Because at least if you exist in the eyes of the system perhaps there may be better delivery of services.”
The study indicated that indigenous children’s problems were not restricted to income-poor nations and that it extended from the United States to Australia, and Bolivia to Cambodia.
She cited examples such as the poor level of education provided for American Indian children in the United States and the disproportionately high percentage of aboriginal children entangled in the juvenile justice system in Australia.
“In northeast Cambodia, indigenous children’s chances of survival are put at less than half of that of the population as a whole,” she added.
Strong social and political action and commitment was needed on behalf of governments, not just individual groups, she said.
©2004 Associated Press
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