In April these child soldiers topped a list of “Ten Stories the World Should Know More About” compiled by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy has coupled it with the terrorist massacre at a southern Russian school last September as illustrating an overall indifference to children’s rights.”Surely these two phenomena – the abduction of thousands of children to become soldiers and sex slaves in Uganda and the deliberate exploitation in Russia of the helplessness and beloved status of children – are some of history’s worst attacks on childhood,” Ms. Bellamy said in an article published Saturday in The Boston Globe and reproduced in a UNICEF news release today.”Yet as tempting as it is to view such events as evil aberrations, they did not come out of nowhere. They came from a world that routinely exploits and neglects children. When governments allow children to be used in the commercial sex industry, to be swept up in the harshest forms of child labour, or to grow up without clean water, education, nutritious food or basic healthcare, they send an unspoken message that it is permissible to overlook the rights of children.”The world’s “sporadic outrage over the most grotesque violations” reflects a “broader acquiescence to a status quo that essentially says that, while awful, the daily and routine suffering of children is intrinsic to the human condition,” she added.”Today more than 1 billion children are suffering extreme deprivations from poverty, war, and HIV/AIDS. The specifics are staggering: 640 million children without adequate shelter, 400 million children without access to safe water and 270 million children without access to basic health services. AIDS has orphaned 15 million children. During the 1990s alone, war forced 20 million children to leave their homes,” she wrote.”The appalling conditions endured today by half the world’s children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children – they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children.”In the past two years the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has abducted some 12,000 children in northern Uganda, and Ms. Bellamy recalled how on a visit to the area she watched a trail of so-called night commuters “on a desperate journey,” the thousands of girls and boys leaving their homes every day at dusk to escape abduction by the rebel group.