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Aid Group Says Millions of Children Die As Millennium Development Goals Go Unmet

A humanitarian organization says a failure to keep the promise of the Millennium Development Goals of 2000 has contributed to the deaths of tens of millions of children. Save the Children says with the Millennium Development Goals at nearly the halfway point, much more must be done to make them a reality.

Matt Phillips is the head of campaigns for Save the Children-UK. From London, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“There was a huge amount of excitement around these goals and they represented a real opportunity to take a step forward. But since these critical commitments were agreed, 80 million children have died unnecessarily because of extreme poverty. And there’s been scant progress on nearly all of the Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to children,” he says.

Of the 80 million children reported to have died since 2000, Save the Children says 17 and a half million have died in the two years since the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Phillips again points to poverty as the root cause of the deaths. “It’s the fact that these children are living on less than a dollar a day…they don’t have access to health care; they don’t have access to education…so as a result, children are dying of things that kill absolutely no one in the rich world., things like diarrhea, which kill millions of children every year. TB, malaria, things which can be treated and which could be tackled, but which aren’t being tackled because of the extreme poverty that these children are in,” he says.

He says there has been a lack of urgency on the part of world leaders to deal with the problems. Save the Children is calling on the G8 leaders, who meet next month in Germany, to do more to help. “They can’t do everything. They can’t solve all these problems. But what they can do is they can back African countries to make health care free and to deliver and to strengthen their health care services…. They can actually back the poorest countries to build and sustain education systems because we know as soon as children get literate, countries develop,” he says.

Phillips says that investing in this generation of children can break the cycle of poverty.