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By NBF News
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ABUJA-United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, has identified exclusion of underprivileged children in urban areas in the provision of social amenities as one of the factors fueling the increase of violent crimes across the country.

Speaking at the national launch and public presentation of the 2012 State of the Children Report in Abuja Tuesday, Country Representative of UNICEF, Dr. Suomi Sakai, said there was need for government to immediately undertake steps to generate policies that would  improve the economic status of the urban poor.

She also called on government to improve budgetary allocations and monitor the implementation of programmes targeted at child development.

Sakai, who noted that the private sector had a role to play in child development, urged government to promote the strict compliance of birth registration as it was the bedrock for effective planning.

She said 'The challenge before us is to define the agenda for turning Nigeria's cities into cities for children-safe, healthy and protective places where the needs of children are met, where all children can go to school and get quality education, where children are protected from abuse and neglect.'

Launching the report, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, said government was doing all it could to tackle the negative effects of urbanization on children.

The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in her ministry, Elizabeth Emuren, further stated that government would focus its programs on children among the urban poor in order to create better opportunities for them.

Since 1996 the 'State of the Children Report' has remained the flagship publication of UNICEF.

This year's edition focussed on children in urban areas.