Church welcomes government plans to combat child poverty

 CAFOD representatives and senior church leaders took part this week in a high level conference on ending child poverty by 2015. The conference - International Action against Child Poverty: Meeting the 2015 targets - took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, on February 26. Nelson Mandela addressed the delegates by live video link from South Africa. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, brought together international agencies with governments and faith groups to agree how to act together to reach a common goal towards the eradication of child poverty by the year 2015. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of the Vatican was a keynote speaker. Cardinal Murphy O'Connor attended the opening session at which Nelson Mandela pleaded with the Conference to turn their commitments into action. CAFOD was part of a group of aid agencies and Church groups that submitted a six-point plan to the conference about the action needed. The six points are: 1. Macroeconomic and fiscal policies which result in better outcomes for children. 2. A free, quality and appropriate education. 3. Reformed national health systems through increased, predictable and co-ordinated resource flows. 4. Development of child-focused strategies for tackling HIV/AIDS. 5. An equitable trade and investment regime. 6. An increase in child security by addressing the root causes of conflict and violence. The child poverty target is one of the International Development Targets which aim to reduce world poverty by half by the year 2015. CAFOD welcomed the recognition at the conference of the role that churches and faith communities play in the fight against poverty. Deputy Director Pat Jones said: "Ending child poverty is something people care about very deeply and it's very encouraging to see that CAFOD and the churches are recognised as significant players at this level." Bishop David Konstant, Chairman of the Bishops' Conference's Department of International Affairs said: "I very much welcome this practical and imaginative initiative to reduce the number of children living in poverty."

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