ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Many Manila children at risk
AT least 1.7 million children in Metro Manila are at risk of contracting diseases and developing subnormally due to lack of food, health services, potable water, sanitation, education, family planning, decent housing, information and participation in normal activities.
Experts made this pronouncement at the Second Forum on Children in the Urban Environment held last August 23-24 at the Ateneo de Manila University. The forum was organized by the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the League of Cities of the Philippines, with support from the United Nations agency for children's welfare, UNICEF, and the Institute of Philippine Culture-Ateneo de Manila University.
The forum aims to develop concrete strategies, policies and programs to address the vulnerabilities of children in urban poor communities.
A UNICEF publication, "State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World," contains a report that says "one-third of the world's urban children live in impoverished neighborhoods (slums), urban informal settlements and on city streets."
Previous studies had shown evidence that people living in urban areas were better off than their rural counterparts. But these reports failed to note the wide economic divide between the city's richer populations and those living in squalor and poverty.
Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Philippines country representative, said, "While cities generate wealth, jobs and development opportunities, the disparities between those urban children who are in comfortable circumstances and those who live in poverty are vast. The swelling numbers of these 'hidden' poor children, often excluded from the opportunities enjoyed by wealthier city-dwellers and overlooked by authorities because of the informal status of their settlements, or because they are unregistered, are one of the greatest challenges to fulfilling the rights of children in this rapidly urbanizing world."
She said that because the gaps between the urban rich and the urban poor are over looked, the economic, social and health deprivations of the latter had not been genuinely reflected.
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, the keynote speaker, said his department recognizes the need for LGUs "to provide shelter that are not only affordable but also to create communities where the young can flourish and not be scared of constant demolition."
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