NEW YORK, 10 MAY 2002

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In taking the floor, we have the honour of transmitting to you, on behalf of the Angolan delegation, our warmest greetings on your election to the presidency of this important United Nations session. We assure you of the full cooperation of the Angolan delegation during the session.

This session of the General Assembly takes place as the world confronts complex social, political and economic conditions, contributing to the already bleak and uncertain future for children. Conflicts proliferate little by little everywhere undermining peace and international security.

This context renews the responsibilities of the United Nations. As such, this noble organization should continue to devote its attention to this critical situation, particularly in Africa, where internal and border conflicts presistently hamper efforts to ensure a better quality of life for the people, and in particular, for our children.

Mr. President,

The unleashing of the Angolan armed conflict immediately following the 1992 elections contributed to the worsening of the already bleak social conditions for Angolans. As a result, nearly 4 million internally displaced people, some 50 thousand orphans of war, 100 thousand children separated from their families, and 100 thousand disabled citizens depend on internal and international humanitarian assistance.

Mr. President,

The percentage of children in the population in Angola is estimated at above 50%, who constitute the potential for the development of the country in the coming decades.

Recent estimates regarding delayed growth in children, low weight and emancipated children, confirm that poor protein-caloric nutrition is one of the most serious problems affecting them. Indications are that the rates are higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Additionally, the following statistics further illustrate the dramatic situation confronting Angola:

.    A maternal mortality rate varying between 1200-1500 per 100,000 live births;

.    An infant mortality rate of 250 per thousand for children under 5;

.    Access to potable water for only 54.1% of the population

.    Access to basic sanitation for only 59.1 % of the population

.    Access to pre-school education for only 6.6%;

.    Approximately 57% of school age children find themselves outside the education system;

.    Nearly 2 million children are subject to physical and emotional hardships, one million of which have no special protection.

We note with deep concern the increasing number of children separated from their families in urban centers and exposed to risks ranging from early pregnancy to sexual and commercial exploitation leading to child prostitution.

Mr President,

Children are the primary resource of the Angolan nation. Their future passes through protective and developmental actions that are being undertaken by the Government, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, religious organizations and civil society.

In keeping with our commitments and the recommendations that emerged from the World Summit on Children, the Angolan Government created the National Institute for Children, as well as hosted and promoted a workshop under the heading "Absolute Priorities for Children" in which stakeholders analized issues such as basic education, health, nutrition, access to potable water, sanitation and the condition of families and children under difficult circumstances.

Furthermore, and in accordance with the rights the of children, the Government of Angola has been implementing a number of initiatives aimed at securing the survival and development of children, among which are the following:

.    A program aimed at searching and reuniting children with their biological families or substitutes.

.    A national conference on sexual and commercial exploitation of children that resulted in the approval of a national plan of action;

.    A national conference on the exploitation of child labor;

.    Promotion and undertaking of free child registration campaigns. The first took place in 1988, registering 80 thousand children. The second began in 2001 and will end in December 2002. To date, 500 thousand children have been registered.

.    The creation of Juvenile Judicial System to protect and secure the rights of children, as well as their obligations under the law;

.    A Children's Parliament, held in 2000;

.    Creation of children's programs especially for early infancy development;

.    Promotion of literacy and adult education campaigns;

.    Increase budgetary allocation to the social sector, currently representing 20%.

In accordance with Angola's pledge to eradicate poliomyelitis by the year 2005, more than 3 million children were vaccinated in 2001. The advent of peace is enabling the government and its partners to reach a greater number of children, contributing to the attainment of our objective.

The Government of Angola initiated the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs to reduce the vertical mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. It is expected that up to 70% of children born from an infected mother will be disease free.

Mr. President,

Today, Angola finds itself at the threshold of a new stage in its history. As such, the Government of Angola continues to be engaged in the process of economic reform in the fight against poverty and in the strengthening of democratic institutions.

After four decades of debilitating war, we are now witnessing the improvement on the environment for the protection of children's rights. As such the Government of Angola recognizes children as a priority in the formulation of its economic and social policies. In this fashion, we protect and insure their survival and development. The Government of Angola undertakes this major commitment before the thousands of suffering children in my country.

On behalf of the children of Angola, and to them, in this grand Assembly, we appeal to the international community to take action in a gesture of solidarity with the children of Angola to support the maintenance of peace, national reconstruction and development, all of which represents the fundamental necessities for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Children, and of the recommendations that will emerge from this special session.

In conclusion, the Angolan delegation would like to express its support for the adoption of the document entitled "A World Fit for Children".

Thank you.