Too many children living in cities across the world are excluded from vital services, UNICEF says in a report launched jointly with the Government of Sri Lanka.
Delivering the welcome speech at the joint launch of UNICEF's 'State of the World's Children Report 2012' at the Presidential Secretariat this morning, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said that the Government of Sri Lanka is pleased to be associated with this joint launching of the UNICEF report.
Conveying greetings from President Mahinda Rajapaksa on this important launch, the Secretary said the President expressed his satisfaction at the launch of the report as it demonstrates the close relationship between Sri Lanka and UNICEF.
"Children are a high priority on the Sri Lankan Government's agenda. The welfare and development of all Sri Lankan children is very much a passionate concern of President, as evidenced by numerous references to proposed interventions on behalf of children in his policy document, the Mahinda Chinthana," the Secretary added.
Chief Guest of the occasion Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation, Dr. Sarath Amunugama said: "While many children enjoy the advantages of urban life, too many children are excluded. These children are deprived of the chance to reach their full potential; it denies their societies of the economic benefits of having a well-educated, healthy urban population."
The commitment that UNICEF witnessed towards the welfare of the children by the Sri Lankan government is the main reason to select Sri Lanka to launch this report, UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Reza Hossaini said.
"Children need to enjoy their rights and quality services if they are to develop as creative and productive individuals. We have to improve our understanding of urban poverty and that means better data and analysis to pinpoint problems," the UNICEF country chief said.
The report entitled 'Children in an Urban World' says that in few years, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 percent of the increase in urban population.
UNICEF urges governments to put children at the heart of the urban planning and to extend and improve services for all. To start, more focused, accurate data are needed to help identify disparities among children in urban areas and how to bridge them. The shortage of such data is evidence of the neglect of these issues.
The report calls for greater recognition of community-based efforts to tackle urban poverty and gives examples of effective partnerships with the urban poor, including children and adolescents.