"Child poverty should be the number one concern of governments in the region"
UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS), Maria Calivis, addresses the National Council for Child Protection
Sofia, 21 November 2006 г. UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and CIS, Mrs. Maria Calivis, addressed today the National Council for Child Protection. She gave an overview of the child poverty in the region and presented the findings of the Innocenti Social Monitor 2006 “Understanding Child Poverty in South-Eastern Europe (SEE) and the CIS”.
The report stresses that poverty strongly compromises the enjoyment of human rights of people in general, and of children in particular. With the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in force in all countries of the SEE/CIS region, States recognize “the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development”.
The overall number of children under 15 living in extreme income poverty (PPP $2.15) has decreased from 32 million to 18 million. Yet, One in four children under 15 is still living in extreme income poverty in South-Eastern Europe, despite the economic upturn in the region. The share of children under 15 living in extreme poverty ranges from 5 per cent in some SEE countries rising to 80 per cent in the poorest Central Asian countries. “In Bulgaria, the overall poverty rate in children is 8% compared to 4% in the overall population. That means that children are twice likely to be poor than an adult.”, said Mr. Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria during the press conference.
“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 CIS. “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.
The Innocenti Social Monitor 2006 explores the extent to which the human rights principles of universality, accountability and monitoring the progress in the realization of children’s rights have been duly taken into account by governments in the SEE/CIS region in their effort to reduce poverty. The report focuses on the children being left behind in this period of growth, and the actions needed to safeguard their right to an adequate standard of living.
The report argues that poverty can and does affect children in different ways from adults, and for this reason children need more attention and visibility in the poverty debate. Poverty affects children not only in the immediate present but also in the longer term, and can have a cumulative impact on their evolving capacities. Children are particularly dependent on public policies to provide the conditions and services they need to develop and grow out of poverty. Confronting child poverty calls for welltargeted and child sensitive policy measures.
The Innocenti Social Monitor 2006 calls for:
In conclusion, Mrs. Maria Calivis commended the Government for the newly approved National Integrated Plan for the Implementation of the UN Convention for child’s rights. This plan aims at addressing child poverty and in strengthening the monitoring of child’s rights.
For more information:
Tzvetelina Bonova, Communication Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria