6 Aug 2009

Unicef warns of disaster for Pacific children as crisis worsens

5:10 pm on 6 August 2009

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, says while many countries in the Pacific are yet to suffer the full impact of the global financial crisis, it is about to hit the region with the devastation of a tsunami.

UNICEF's Chief of Policy in the Pacific, Dr Will Parks, says thousands of women and children will be caught in this storm and hundreds of children could die.

Dr Parks says there is time for governments to re-adjust fiscal and monetary policy to create a safety net for the most vulnerable, but there are already signs of budgets being cut.

He says a bold move would be for Pacific governments to use budget cuts in some areas to increase spending on children.

Dr Parks says there is irrefutable evidence to show the economic and social benefits of investing in children, in good times as well as in bad.

He says this is not just a moral imperative, but smart economics.

Dr Parks says because of the financial state of many island countries, donors, such as New Zealand and Australia, need to maintain their aid commitments to the Pacific and ensure investments benefit those most in need.