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01 March 12
Almost half the world’s children now live in urban areas where they are often excluded from vital services such as adequate housing, healthcare and education, a new report reveals.
According to UNICEF’s ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World’ published this week – children’s rights need to be at the centre of urban decision-making if children are to escape the cycle of poverty they often find themselves in.
While cities have long been associated with economic prosperity and employment, in reality, they are often the settings for enormous inequalities in children’s health and wellbeing. Poorer families are often under additional pressure in urban areas and families living in poverty often pay more for substandard services. According to UNICEF, water can cost up to 50 times more in poor neighbourhoods where residents have to buy it from private vendors, than it costs in wealthier neighbourhoods, which are connected directly to the mains water supply.
Our work to prevent family breakdown puts us on the front line in urban settings – offering a lifeline to children and families who cannot access even the most basic facilities. For instance, Alma and Rasim, who we work with in Bosnia, previously lived with their seven children in a two-room rented house on the outskirts of Sarajevo. They had been forced to move several times over the years because of soaring rent prices in the city. . They had been forced to move several times because of soaring rent prices in the city, coped without water supply for a year and relied on a wood burning stove in their kitchen as their only source of heat.
Rasim worked as a builder's assistant, had no work in the winter and relied on child benefit payments to support the family. The family's total monthly income was €150, often less.
Within a few months, with our support, the family moved into a new council flat and Rasim found temporary employment as a building assistant, which has since become permanent. The two older boys have returned to school after a significant absence.
All of the children are now doing well in school and have made friends in their new neighbourhood. Their eldest son has married a young woman from the same complex and has had a child. Alma and Rasim have also had another child and now that the family is more secure, they are able to enjoy their new arrivals, with fewer worries about how they will care for them.
Imagine growing up not knowing what a family is. All children need a loving family and a place to call home.
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