War and poverty threaten a billion children

More than one billion children, many of whom live in city slums, are threatened by conflict, poverty or discrimination against girls, says Save the Children.

The global charity’s new report, The Many Faces of Exclusion, looks at how these factors are affecting half the world’s entire child population, robbing them of their childhood.

Threatened

Now in its second year, the report also ranks 175 countries where childhood is most and least threatened as a result of poor health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labour, child marriage, early pregnancy and extreme violence. Slovenia and Singapore rank the highest, followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland. Eight of the bottom 10 countries are in West and Central Africa, with Niger ranked last for the second year running.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Save the Children International CEO, said that while progress is being made in many parts of the world, it is not happening quickly enough. Alarmingly, the gap between rich and poor in many countries is also growing.

Held back

“More than half the world’s children start their lives held back because they are a girl, because they are poor or because they are growing up in a warzone,” she said. “Early marriage, child labour and malnutrition are just some of the life-changing events that can rob children of their childhood.

“Without urgent action, we’ll never meet the promises made three years ago by every country at the UN in 2015 to ensure that by 2030 every child survives, learns and is protected.”

For Ali*, 14, dealing with conflict and poverty has become the norm. Displaced and living in a basic shelter in the Yemen, he is the family breadwinner after his father was injured in an airstrike: “I was crying with my brother. It was very terrifying. We didn’t know what it was. I’m no longer afraid of the airstrikes. We’re now used to living in war.”

Hungry

Yet despite doing everything he can to support his family, they still go to bed hungry.

“Before the war I used to play and have fun with my friends – they were good days and I didn’t complain. Nowadays it’s war, the war affected everything,” he added.

*Name changed

Author: Simon Weedy

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