ONE in 12 children live in countries where their life chances are fewer than those of their parents, a report published last week by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, suggests.
The investigation, released to coincide with World Children’s Day on Monday of last week, found that, in 37 countries, 180 million young people were more likely to exist in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violence than the equivalent generation two decades before. This was despite significant improvements in living standards for most of the world’s children.
UNICEF’s analysis found that the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day had increased in 14 countries, mostly due to unrest, conflicts, or poor governance.
It also revealed that, owing to financial crises, rapid population growth, and the impact of conflicts, primary-school enrolment had declined in 21 countries; and violent deaths among children below the age of 19 had increased in seven conflict-ridden countries: Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. In four countries, there was a decline across more than one of the three areas measured.
UNICEF’s director of data, research and policy, Laurence Chandy, said: “While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains for most of the world’s children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this — through no fault of their own or those of their families — is a travesty.
“It is the hope of every parent, everywhere, to provide greater opportunities for their children than they themselves enjoyed when they were young. This World Children’s Day, we have to take stock of how many children are, instead, seeing opportunities narrow and their prospects diminish.
“In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care. No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain.”