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NORWAY/UN: Norway Pledges Funds to Help UN Fight Female Circumcision

OSLO, Norway: Norway pledged 20 million kroner (US$3.4 million, €2.5 million) on Wednesday to help the United Nations fight the genital mutilation of young girls through female circumcision.

The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, has reported that 130 million girls and women have undergone such mutilation worldwide.

"Genital mutilation is a brutal violation of the basic human rights of women and children," Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim said in announcing the pledge. "According to the World Health Organization, 6,000 girls are circumcised daily."

The Norwegian donation is earmarked for a special fund recently created by the U.N. Population Fund and the U.N. children's fund, UNICEF.

Solheim said the fund will work with national and local officials, religious leaders, the news media and local residents in the countries where the practice is most widespread.

A separate Norwegian-led effort launched in 2003 to curb the practice is already showing results in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as in parts Ethiopia and Eritrea, where the number of female circumcisions is declining, a news release said.

SOURCE: International Herald Tribune

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DATE: 12/08/2007

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