UNICEF raises concerns over high child poverty rates in Armenia
YEREVAN, 17 December 2010 – UNICEF voiced its concern today over high child poverty rates in Armenia, immediately after the National Statistical Service of Armenia published results of the 2009 Integrated Living Conditions Survey.
In 2009, 38.1 percent of children in Armenia were poor, while 4.5 percent were extremely poor, according to the survey results.
“The new data on child poverty is extremely worrisome. It is obvious that the economic and financial crisis hit children the hardest. The situation is fraught with long-term consequences both for children as they may be ripped of some of their basic rights and the country’s overall development,” UNICEF Representative Laylee Moshiri stressed.
Unfortunately, the 2011 state budget adopted recently by the National Assembly does not provide sufficient conditions to improve the situation of children living in poverty. Budget allocations under education and health sector remain low as compared to other low middle-income countries and have not yet reached levels pledged in the Sustainable Development Plan.
The survey once again confirmed that children with disabilities are the most marginalized and deprived group within the child population of Armenia. Out of the total number of children with disabilities in Armenia, 70 percent are poor and 13 percent are extremely poor.
According to the survey, the highest percent of extremely poor children is in Lori region - 9 percent of the province’s child population, whereas the highest overall child poverty rate is observed in Shirak region, where more than 50 percent of children are poor.
Family benefits remain crucial for extremely poor families and without them the percent of extremely poor children would have doubled, growing from 4.5 percent to 9.1 percent. Unlike family benefits, child benefits do not have any significant impact on the overall child poverty rates as the number of families receiving this type of benefit is very low.
“For children poverty means risks for malnutrition, overall development and deprivation of basic conditions for child well-being. Therefore, tackling child poverty is not something that can wait until fiscal circumstances are seen as accommodating. Re-orienting social protection expenditure towards more efficient models may mitigate devastating effects of poverty on children and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that threatens human development and economic growth,” UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri said.
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UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to meet their full potential.