World Vision Shocked at Child Poverty in South-eastern Europe

Christian development agency World Vision has expressed its shock as a new UNICEF report reveals the shocking extent of child poverty in south-eastern Europe.

World Vision has expressed its shock at the extent to which serious levels of poverty continue to blight the lives of children in the poorest families in south-eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Central Asia, which a new report claims have made little progress over the last decade.

According to the latest reports by Unicef's 'Innocenti Social Monitor 2006: Understanding Child Poverty in South-Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States', child poverty is becoming more and more concentrated in certain groups and geographical areas in the region.

Among the disturbing findings of the report was the latest statistic which shows that for every four children in the region one is living in absolute poverty, despite a recent economic upturn.

The number of institutionalised children remains steady despite a sharp decline in birth rates.

"It is shocking to note the number of children who are placed in institutions throughout the Eastern European region despite having either one or both parents living," says Sharon Payt, World Vision Middle East and Eastern European Region Advocacy Director.

"These children find themselves in a terrible limbo existence, living in a state orphanage yet not being adoptable since one or both parents still exist.

"Work is being done to challenge this awful practice with some successes by World Vision and others in Georgia and Romania.

"This is only the beginning however, and this practice of children being 'dumped' into institutions by parents must be ended throughout this region," she added.

The Innocenti report cites household poverty as one of the main reasons for children being put into institutions, and encourages action to address this trend.

"Child poverty should be the number one concern of governments in the region," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS).

"Children continue to be placed in institutions, the numbers are not decreasing, and this despite a sharp decline in the birth rate. The future of the region is inextricably bound to the well-being of children.

"If the true potential of all these countries is to be achieved, there must be adequate investment in services for children,'" she added.

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