Impact of the war in Ukraine and the ensuing economic recession on child poverty in Eastern Europe and Central Asiawarned that the ripple effect of this surge could lead to a sharp increase in dropout rates and infant mortality.
Data from 22 countries in the region shows that children bear the heaviest burden of the economic crisis stemming from Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
While they make up only 25% of the population, they make up almost 40% of the other 10.4 million people forced into poverty this year.
“Children across the region are being caught up in the terrible awakening of this war“, speak UNICEF Afshan Khan, Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.
Originated from war
Sparked by the Ukraine war and the region-wide cost of living crisis, Russia accounts for nearly three-quarters of the increase among children in poverty – with 2.8 million people currently living in households below the poverty line.
Ukraine is home to half a million more children living in povertysecond largest market share, followed by Romania, which grew by 110,000, the study noted.
“Apart from the obvious horrors of war – the killing and slaughter of children, mass displacement – the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine are having a devastating impact on children in the country,” Ms. Eastern Europe and Central Asia”.
Overcoming money woes
The result of poor children outnumber families living in poverty.
The sharp increase could lead to an additional 4,500 babies dying before their first birthdays, and a drop in schooling could lead to 117,000 more dropping out of school this year alone, the study says. .
“If we do not support these children and families now, the sharp increase in child poverty will almost certainly lead to lost lives and lost education,” the UNICEF official warned. and lose the future,” warned the UNICEF official.
The poorer the family, the higher the proportion of income devoted to food, fuel, and other necessities.
Research shows that as the cost of basic goods rises, money for other needs such as health care and education goes down.
The next cost of living crisis means poorest children even less able to access essential services and more risk violence, exploitation and abuse.
And for many people, childhood poverty lasts a lifetime, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of hardship and deprivation.
When governments reduce public spending, raise taxes or add austerity measures to boost their economies, they reduce support services for those who depend on it.
“Austerity measures will hurt children – push more children into poverty and make it harder for already struggling families,” Ms Khan said.
Plan to get support
The study makes recommendations to help those in financial difficulty, such as providing universal cash grants for children; expanding social assistance to families with children in difficulty; and protect social spending.
It also proposes to support health, nutrition and social services for pregnant mothers, infants and preschool children, as well as introduce price regulations for basic food items. for family.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has partnered with the EU Commission and several EU countries to pilot the EU Securing Children initiative to reduce the impact of poverty on children.
Need strong feedback
With more and more children and families pushed into poverty, a strong response is needed across the region.
UNICEF is calling for expanded support to strengthen social protection systems in high- and middle-income countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and funding social protection programs for vulnerable children and families.
“We must protect and extend social support to vulnerable families before the situation worsens,” emphasized UNICEF Regional Director.