UNICEF is heavily invested in fragile situations, where over 1 billion children under the age of 18 now live almost one-sixth of the world population. No fragile state has achieved a single Millennium Development Goal (MDG). Children in these countries are more than three times as likely to be unable to go to school, they are twice as likely to die before age five, and more than twice as likely to lack clean water. Eight of the 10 countries with the highest under-five mortality are conflict-affected and/or fragile. The challenge of addressing state fragility continues. Fragility-defined as the inability and/or unwillingness of a state to meet the needs and expectations of its population-has multiple underlying causes, both chronic and acute, and these can include: very low state capacity (service delivery), poor governance, corruption, low state legitimacy, insecurity and often conflict, porous borders and organized crime. Not all fragile situations involve conflict, and there is great variance among states affected by fragility. Moreover, there can be dramatic regional contrasts within a fragile state, where a major humanitarian crisis can exist in one region, while a largely development context prevails in another.

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