UNICEF warns of deepening inequalities in Europe and Central Asia
The COVID-19 pandemic, climate disasters and ongoing conflict have deepened inequalities among children in Europe and Central Asia, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report published on Thursday, calling for more robust support for boys and girls at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The report on children’s rights is the first of its kind to bring together existing data and analysis for all countries in the region, while highlighting critical data gaps that need to be filled.
UNICEF Regional Director Afshan Khan said the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, climate change and the current economic and energy crisis have plunged many families into uncertainty, affecting their well-being and that of their children.
“However, lack of data of how these events have affected children’s rights makes it difficult to assess how we can meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and families, so that no child in the region is left behind,” she added.
At a disadvantage
An estimated 35 to 40 million children across Europe and Central Asia are living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The report reveals inequalities in access to healthcare and education for some of the most vulnerable.
For example, Roma children, along with some 11 million boys and girls with disabilities, are among the most disadvantaged when it comes to access to quality education.
Although the region includes countries with the lowest number of infant and child deaths globally, under-five mortality rates in some nations are higher than the global average. More than half of these deaths are due to preventable and treatable diseases.
Europe and Central Asia also have some of the world’s highest rates of children separated from their families, or in care homes. Again, Roma children and those with disabilities are disproportionally represented in residential care.
The pandemic caused severe disruptions to routine immunization services, with 95 per cent of countries showing backsliding in coverage. “As a result, every year, almost one million children in the region do not receive their scheduled vaccinations,” UNICEF said.
Toll on mental health
The global crisis also affected children’s emotional and mental wellbeing, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death in high-income countries in the region, according to the report.
UNICEF said air pollution is the single most significant environmental risk in the region, impacting an estimated four out of five children in Europe and Central Asia. Additionally, communities also lack the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change.
Ukraine war effect
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked an unprecedented exodus from the country, and the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and Central Asia from other parts of the world also continues to increase.
Host countries have been stretched to capacity to sustain equal access to quality basic services, with gaps in areas such as accommodation and sanitation facilities, health and protection services, and care and support for unaccompanied and separated children.
Social protection programmes
Last year, UNICEF published a report on how the economic fallout from the war has had an impact on child poverty in Europe and Central Asia. Since then, the agency has been calling for countries to expand and strengthen social protection systems, including cash assistance programmes.
In issuing its latest study, UNICEF urged governments to meet the needs of every child, especially the most vulnerable, and to prioritize children in the collection and analysis of data.
TIME: Will China create a better world?
China is everywhere in global politics. China is “ubiquitous,” a retired Senior Colonel Zhou Bo of China’s PLA told in a conversation with TIME magazine. On March 10, in an agreement brokered by Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to normalize relations, after seven years of bitter rivalry in a deal that sidelined the U.S. Earlier, on February 24, China put forward a 12-point proposal for peace in Ukraine. On March 20, President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow, where he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Vladimir Putin.
Senior Colonel Zhou Bo spoke about what the “watershed moment” means for China and the world. He said:
– For Beijing, the war in Ukraine is a trigger for new security arrangements in Europe that will have to be made before peace returns. China’s proposal on peace in Ukraine is a big step forward. The success on mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia will encourage China to make more proposals, but the challenge is always to find road maps. With reform and opening up, as Deng Xiaoping said, China was trying to get across the river by feeling the stones on the riverbed, but now China is entering the ocean.
– We are talking about Global China. When Boris Johnson talked about Global Britain, it was probably more rhetorical. But Global China is definitely real. China is ubiquitous. China’s influence is everywhere. The PLA’s operations overseas are carefully chosen to be humanitarian in nature, but as your strength grows, people have higher expectations for you. We are talking about the world. This is the ocean we are wading in.
– China does have some sympathy with Russia on how this war came about because of NATO expansion, despite NATO’s promises on no expansion from time to time. China understands why Russia is resentful. When China stresses sovereignty must be respected, it also tries to look at it from a more comprehensive perspective. Countries like South Africa, Brazil, or India are taking similar positions like China on this.
– There is no doubt that China wants to see a ceasefire because China’s interests were damaged in Europe. Because of China’s neutrality, China’s relations with Western capitals have soured. This is ludicrous because China has nothing to do with this war.
– It does not make any sense that China, which has not provided weapons to Russia since the outbreak of the war, would change its mind, especially at a time when they have actually announced a peace plan. Why would Antony Blinken say that? By saying it, Blinken was actually giving a pre-emptive warning because China providing military support would be the worst fear of the U.S. But it’s totally impossible.
– The American presence in the region is not as strong as before, but the U.S. will not go away. But on this issue China is doing what the U.S. cannot do. Why? Because the U.S. doesn’t even have diplomatic relations with Iran. It cannot become a mediator between the two sides. The U.S. has allies in the region. It has to adopt double standards. Therefore, China can do a better job, but this is not an attempt to replace the U.S.
– If there were a war between Saudi and Iran, this would damage China’s interests, both economic interests and energy security, profoundly. So China needs to prevent a war and that may explain its new role.
– China depends on energy imports from the Middle East, which make up 40-50% of Chinese energy imports. We are trying to diversify, but that is the situation for now… At the same time, China’s activity in the Middle East now comprises almost everything, from building infrastructure to launching satellites to energy imports, therefore its stake on peace and stability in the Middle East has become higher.
– This is the first time China becomes directly involved in regional security. The biggest question of the 21st century is, if China’s rise is inevitable, will China create a better world? My answer is, at least it can make a safer world. At least it will make much less harm than the U.S.
War in Ukraine: Congress adopts a declaration of condemnation
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted on 21 March 2023 a Declaration to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine, presented by the Congress President and Rapporteur on The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, Leendert Verbeek (Netherlands, SOC/G/PD).
President Verbeek said that the Congress declaration is a clear message of condemnation of this brutal war and a strong reaffirmation of the Congress’ unwavering solidarity with Ukraine, its people and communities : “we must continue to show our Ukrainian friends, colleagues and peers – the elected leaders that are engaged in a battle for their lives, their citizens, their towns and their futures – that they are NOT forgotten and that we will do everything in our power now, and in the future, to support them.” President Verbeek also stressed that the declaration reiterated the Congress’ resolute support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
The debate was preceded by a video message from the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets. “The solidarity of our partners strengthens the stability of our resistance to the aggressor and our strong confidence in victory”, he underlined while speaking about the difficult humanitarian situation in Ukraine. He also stressed the importance of mechanisms for the protection of citizens’ rights on the local level for everybody. He described how his office was implementing this approach by opening representative offices of the Commissioner in each region.
In his speech, the Congress President praised the “extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukrainians and their leadership as they relentlessly defend their country at the frontline and the home front. “The Congress commends the solidarity and unity of Europeans, their cities and regions. We call on all to continue to mobilise and provide large-scale financial, security and humanitarian assistance to their Ukrainian counterparts”, he highlighted.
During the debate, Congress members supported the creation of a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine and the setting up of an international compensation mechanism for the injury, damage and loss incurred by the State of Ukraine as well as natural and legal persons in Ukraine. “It is imperative to hold Russia accountable for all crimes and justice must be done for all the victims.”, stressed President Verbeek.
“The Congress stands by the Ukrainian people at this historically decisive time for Ukraine and the world and believes in a common, democratic future based on respect for international law and a just peace.”, he concluded.
The strategic situation in the Persian Gulf region has dramatically changed
The China-brokered Saudi-Iranian normalisation of diplomatic relations. What has happened is an epochal event, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.
Henry Kissinger drew the analogy of his own accomplishment in an extraordinary diplomatic career when, as Secretary of State in the Richard Nixon administration, he helped achieve rapprochement with Beijing amidst its tensions with Moscow.
One aspect of the Saudi-Iranian deal that has implications for India’s immediate external environment is that the strategic situation in the Persian Gulf region, India’s extended neighbourhood, has dramatically changed.
This can only be seen as the culmination of a series of repositioning on the part of the regional states that have been underway in the regional politics, as they increasingly took to diversifying their foreign policies away from the preponderant dependency on the West historically, and steadily and unmistakably began asserting their strategic autonomy with a newfound self-assuredness — be it Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt or Turkey.
Today, Israel stares at strategic isolation in its region and America, its mentor-cum-benefactor-cum-guardian-cum-protector, stands diminished.
Kissinger noted that ‘China has in recent years declared that it needs to be a participant in the creation of the world order. It has now made a significant move in that direction.’
Of course, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself stated last week that Beijing should ‘actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system’ and promote ‘global security initiatives’.
India cannot but be wary that the Biden administration’s main thrust is military deterrence fuelling an Asian arms race, with which India can identify only at the risk of grave consequences.
NATO’s defeat in Ukraine will seriously damage the transatlantic system and the US’ hopes that casting China as enemy might rally Europe are unrealistic. Besides, the China-Russia quasi-alliance will resist. Should India get sucked into the maelstrom?
The US strategies seriously impact peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, as they are anchored on bloc politics and confrontation, and their self-serving geopolitical agenda is to create a NATO-replica in the Asian continent.
The Anglo-Saxon clique known as AUKUS — comprising the US, Britain and Australia—opens a Pandora’s box as other countries will likely follow suit, which will seriously impact the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and even lead to its collapse. Will that serve Indian interests?
Credit Suisse Collapse – this is a robbery of Arab investors
Riding an oil-price boom last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed government-backed Saudi National Bank to make a...
Arab plan for Syria puts US and Europe in a bind
A push by Arab allies of the United States to bring Syria in from the cold highlights the limits of...
Iraq’s Geopolitics, Key Factor for US, EU Energy Security Strategies
Twenty years after the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003, which resulted in the overthrow of the Baath regime...
Impact of technological advancements on International Trade and Finance
Technological advancements have had a significant impact on international trade and finance in recent years. These advancements have facilitated cross-border...
The Political and Diplomatic Implications of the ICC’s Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin
On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged...
An inquiry into geopolitical logic of China and Russia relations
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia during March 20-23 is hailed as “vigorous, mature and stable”. During his...
Indonesia: Climate Change Challenges
Indonesia is a nation that faces the threat of drowning land due to the impact of global warming. Rising sea...
Finance3 days ago
Bloomberg: The consequences of yuan’s internationalization
World News4 days ago
WP: Ukraine short of skilled troops and munitions as losses, pessimism grow
World News4 days ago
Canada lacks capacity to lead Haiti mission
South Asia3 days ago
Pakistan: Not a Rebirth but a Suicide of a Nation
Southeast Asia3 days ago
The impact of AUKUS against China and Russia on the security of Asia and the world
Middle East4 days ago
Iranian Strategic Patience: Israel and the Soft Wars
Terrorism3 days ago
Terrorism a Collective Problem and its Challenges
Economy3 days ago
The Impact of Crypto-Assets on Governments and the International Community: A Forecast for 2035