Situation Analysis of Children Rights in Europe and Central Asia
National economic and social progress across Europe and Central Asia masks pockets of disadvantage. Time and again, particular groups of children are denied the care and protection their peers experience.
A region that has transformed itself
Europe and Central Asia has experienced tremendous change since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago.
The 22 countries and territories in the region where UNICEF has Country and Programme Offices have seen rapid transformation of their social structures, societies, infrastructure and borders. Despite notable progress, many children in the Europe and Central Asia region still live in poverty, lack equal access to quality services and suffer discrimination, abuse, exploitation and violence.
Events over the past two years, including the global COVID-19 pandemic, the escalation of the war in Ukraine and subsequent refugee outflow, and the global economic downturn, have had a devastating impact on children and families in Europe and Central Asia. Disadvantaged and excluded children can be found in every part of the region, and these children are the focus of UNICEF’s work across Europe and Central Asia.
Unequal progress: Children left behind
Two-thirds of newborn deaths
Two-thirds of newborn deaths could be prevented during pregnancy, at birth and during the first week of life.
35-40 million children
An estimated 35-40 million children are living below the national poverty lines.
1 million children
1 million children do not receive all recommended vaccines.
One in three children
One in three children aged 6-9 years is overweight or obese.
5 million children
Over 5 million children are refugees.
4 out of 5 children
4 out of 5 children in the region are breathing polluted air.
The region continues to face major equity gaps in the realization of all rights for all children, with particular groups of children more likely than others to miss out on services and opportunities. To address these gaps and reach all children, UNICEF works in the areas of child protection, education, early childhood development, emergencies, health, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene and social policy.
The most disadvantaged children are too often denied the care and protection experienced by their peers. National systems, such as education, health, child protection and social welfare systems could, and should, meet the needs of every child – including the most vulnerable.
Greater investment in services that meet the needs of the most vulnerable children would help maximize the impact of the economic and social progress already being made across the region. Investments that support vulnerable children represent a sound investment in the future, with massive returns in terms of health, well-being and productivity.
“Situation Analysis of Children Rights in Europe and Central Asia: Unequal progress, Children left behind” spotlights deepening inequalities and urges countries to put in place sound systems to support children at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The report is the first of its kind to bring together existing data and analysis for all countries in the region, while highlighting critical data gaps that need to be filled.