UN report cites rising inequalities among Vietnamese children

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A United Nations report on August 31 about the situation of children in Vietnam called for the country to make greater efforts in dealing with child poverty, especially among ethnic minorities and rural communities.

The 300-page report, which analyzes the socio and economic conditions of about 30 million children, is considered the most comprehensive analysis in a decade. It suggests that the country's children are facing increased inequalities, with segments of the child and adolescent population in Vietnam continuing to live in "deprivation and exclusion."

More improvements must be made in areas including hygiene, sanitation, child poverty, nutrition, child protection, and education quality and management.

"We have an obligation to guarantee to each and every child the "˜highest obtainable' standards of health, education, protection and participation," said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Country Representative.

The UNICEF chief in Vietnam said child poverty should no longer be seen as children living in low-income households, but instead "as a deprivation in several areas such as health, education, recreation, water and shelter."

Under this new approach, 62 percent of ethnic minority children are considered poor compared with 22 percent of the Kinh and ethnic Chinese, according to the report.

Poverty is also attributed to a lack of education, with much lower enrollment and attendance rates for HIV-infected and disabled children, and ethnic minorities, who have very limited access to education in their mother tongue.

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