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U.N. Secretary-General Welcomes 5 Billionth Inhabitant

July 11, 1987 GMT

ZAGREB, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The United Nations today proclaimed an eight-pound newborn boy the world’s 5 billionth inhabitant, and began worldwide celebrations to welcome baby Matej Gaspar.

The blond infant was born at 8:35 a.m. (2:35 a.m. EDT) today to Sanja and Dragutin Gaspar at University Medical Hospital in the northern Yugoslav city of Zagreb.

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar visited the hospital immediately after the birth and took the baby in his arms. He told the parents he hoped Matej’s birth would ″mark a new generation of peace.″

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″It’s a beautiful baby and I want to congratulate you,″ he told the 23- year-old mother. ″You should be thankful that your son has been born in prosperity.″

″The baby is in perfect health″ said Miso Jurkovic, a doctor at the hospital.

The United Nations Fund for Population Activities proclaimed today ″The Day of the Five Billion″ and is sponsoring festivities around the world to draw attention to the rapid growth in the global population.

The fund says the population is growing so fast - by about 150 babies per minute or 220,000 per day - that nobody knows exactly when or where the 5 billionth baby actually will be born.

″We took the 1984 statistics and projected them to arrive to the exact number (5 billion) on July 11th,″ Alex Marshall, the fund’s chief of publications, told The Associated Press.

″The figures are just an approximation and this is strictly a formal celebration,″ he said. Zagreb was chosen for proclamation of the 5 billionth baby because the 14th World University Games are being held there now.

The United Nations projects that the world’s population will reach 6 billion by the year 2000 and exceed 10 billion by the beginning of the 22nd century.

After visiting Baby Gaspar, Perez de Cuellar opened an exhibition entitled ″A Day to Celebrate, a Day to Contemplate″ staged by the Fund for Population Activities in Zagreb.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, the secretary-general called upon the world to ″pause for a moment to contemplate the world’s future.″

″For the first time in our history, we are able to support 5 billion people,″ he said. ″For the first time we can say with confidence that we have the ability to support those who will come after.″

He called for better use of the world’s resources and for the international community to ″remember that the fate of one of us is the fate of all. This is the message of the 5 billion.″