17 November 2006 Orphaned children are among the most vulnerable groups in the world, and the international community must work to protect them, the United Nations General Assembly President said this evening.
“Many face further discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity or disability,” Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain said at a Global Children’s Gala in New York.
“Orphaned children are often denied their right to protection, and to be treated as children in a loving environment.”
She cited stark statistics to put the issue in context, noting that there are nearly 39 million orphans in Africa, 61.5 million in Asia, and 8 million in Latin America. While praising international efforts to address their concerns, including the commitment of countries to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she urged further action. “Much more is needed though if we are to reverse the current situation and make a real difference in the lives of orphans,” she said.
The General Assembly President proposed a series of measures for addressing the situation, including providing universal access to essential services, such as clean water and primary schooling, as well as strengthening institutions that deal with children.
“These objectives may not be attained without genuine partnerships,” she said, emphasizing the significant role being played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). “They provide homes; physical and emotional care, education, and help orphans integrate into society,” she said, praising in particular Orphans International for its “inspiring and essential” commitment.
“Only by enabling orphans to lead a normal life, can we give our societies the opportunity to life in greater dignity, free from want and fear,” she said.