The United Nations children's agency is calling on governments in the East Asian and Pacific region to allocate more public money to improving the lives of children.

UNICEF director Carol Bellamy told a group of government officials and development experts in Cambodia today (Wednesday) that more money needs to go to essential social services such as health care and education, in some of the most impoverished communities.

Ms. Bellamy says a "strong, concerted, unified action" is needed to ensure economic inequalities do not become a "scourge" that will lead to conflict.

Ms. Bellamy made her remarks at the start of a three-day conference devoted to the plight of children in Asia.