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800,000 malnourished children

Kim Pok Nan, age 5, is being treated for malnutrition at a children's home in the city of Huichon, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The staff said Kim Pok Nan was five, but she looked about three. She had on a bright pink dress and her little arms and legs were like sticks coming out of it. Her mother had died of diarrhoea fifteen days earlier. Her father had died in the floods. At least the little girl had got to a place where she was getting some food and high-energy milk. She gave me a look that was very old and very, very sad. I can still remember what her eyes looked like." (An eyewitness account, August 1997)

In 1995-1997, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea suffered devastating floods, storms, drought and crop failure. More than a third of children under five were malnourished by mid-1997, and around 800,000 were severely malnourished and at risk of dying. To help these children, UNICEF has provided emergency supplementary food and supplies and training for medical and health staff. The organization has launched an international appeal for funds and will continue to support its longstanding programmes in health, education, nutrition and water and sanitation.

Children who work

Roja is 12. She lives in a marginal community outside the city of Hyderabad, India.
"When my younger brothers and sisters grew up, my father sent me to work in a factory that manufactures fans. I worked there for a while but then asked my mother if I could go to school. She said 'How can I run the family if you go to school?' But finally my parents let me join a non-formal education centre in my community. I want to continue my studies and one day become a teacher."

UNICEF supports universal education as a way to prevent harmful child labour. To help children who are already working or who have missed school because of work, UNICEF supports flexible schooling that is geared to students' needs and skills and offers children a second chance to complete their education.

Children in arms

At age 11, Naftal was abducted into the army during Mozambique's civil war. After the war, he received help from UNICEF to return to his small village in Gaza province, where he lives with his mother and siblings.

"On Christmas Eve, at 6 pm, soldiers attacked my village. They killed about 70 people, including my elder brother. They kidnapped my mother, my younger brother and me. The soldiers gave me an AK-47 rifle and showed me how to shoot. I didn't want to kill anyone. I lost all hope of returning home."

UNICEF-assisted programmes help return former child soldiers to their homes and reintegrate them into society through counselling and education.

A mine on the road

El Salvador's 1992 peace accords ended 12 years of armed conflict but they could not put a stop to the tragedies caused by remaining landmines. Among landmines' many victims were 12 school children from Chalatenango Province.

Walking to school on a warm day in May 1992, a 15-year-old boy picked up a curious-looking object and brought it to class to show his friends. The object, it turned out, was a landmine, which exploded when he dropped it by mistake. The blast blew off the boy's leg and injured 11 of his classmates.

UNICEF supports programmes that teach children about landmine awareness, take mines out of the ground and provide medical care, prosthetic devices and therapy to victims. The organization also supports a worldwide ban on the production, sale, stockpiling and use of the deadly devices.

UNICEF in Brief

UNICEF's mission is to:

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations
New York, NY 10017
Tel.: (1-212) 326-7000

© United Nations 1998 / Information Technology Section, DPI