UNICEF: Huge increase in children poverty in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

High inflation and the Ukraine war have increased child poverty by 19% across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a study published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published on Monday.

The study warns of a sharp rise in school dropout rates and child deaths as a result of these conditions.

Data from 22 countries across the region shows that children bear the brunt of the economic crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. While they make up only 25% of the population, they represent nearly 40% of the additional 10.4 million people forced into poverty this year. “Children across the region are being exhausted in the wake of this terrible war,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Because of the Ukraine war and the cost of living crisis across the region, Russia accounts for nearly 3 quarters of the increase in child poverty, with another 2.8 million now living with their families below the poverty line.

The study notes that Ukraine is home to an additional half a million children living in poverty, the second largest proportion, followed by Romania, with an increase of 110,000 children. “Beyond the obvious horrors of war: the killing and maiming of children, and mass displacement, the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine are having a devastating effect on children across Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” Khan said.

The study says the sharp increase could lead to an additional 4,500 children dying before their first birthdays, and a learning loss could mean an 117,000 increase in school dropouts this year alone.

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