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New UNICEF report reveals alarming conditions for children in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI, 14 June 2010 – A new report reveals that the majority of children in Djibouti live in abject poverty, which exposes them to life-threatening situations. The report is a result of a study on child poverty commissioned by UNICEF and the Djiboutian Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Social Affairs at the end of 2009.

“The intensity of the poverty situation in Djibouti tells us of the dangerous environment in which children live, one that exposes them to exploitation and abuse,” said Josefa Marrato, UNICEF Representative in Djibouti.

According to the report, about two out of three children in Djibouti are deprived of at least one basic right, including the right to shelter, water and sanitation, information, nutrition, education and health.

Deprivation from adequate shelter is particularly widespread, with more than half of children lacking access to proper housing. Levels are alarmingly high in rural areas, where they reach 9 out of 10 children.

While children in urban centres are at more risk of exploitation and abuse, the burden hits twice as hard in rural areas where children don’t have adequate access to basic services.

Although significant progress has been made over the years in the provision of basic social services including an integrated management of childhood illness, increase in school enrolment and care for orphans and vulnerable children, UNICEF is concerned that the high poverty prevalence rate could undermine the gains made so far unless children are put at the centre of policy and decision making, and resource allocation.

The situation is further compounded with high incidences of malnutrition. The outcome of a nutrition survey at the end of 2009 reveal that about 28.8 percent of children under five years in Djibouti face acute malnutrition- 5.2 percent of who are severely malnourished and at risk of dying.

UNICEF on its part continues to deliver vital services in Djibouti in the areas of child survival and development, basic education, and child protection.

The Child Survival and Development programme delivers a package of life-saving health activities, including vaccinations, vitamin A supplementation and health promotion and an integrated management of childhood illnesses in the heart of local communities.

Together with partners, UNICEF is focused on promoting the rights of children in Djibouti through a continuum of care that protects orphans and vulnerable children and girls from exploitation and abuse.

The report puts forward a series of recommendations to help alleviate the poverty burden in the country. These include:

  • Putting children at the heart of development and poverty reduction policies;
  • Ensuring the immediate implementation of policies to fight malnutrition, increase food security, and promote free, compulsory primary education;
  • Adopting better targeted, high impact actions for poverty reduction among children.

“Now is the time to act to deliver our various commitments for the children of Djibouti. The key for their future lies with us confronting the current glaring realities of deprivation in which they live in”, Ms Marrato further said. 


Note to the editor:
The Djibouti Child Poverty study is part of a UNICEF global initiative conducted between 2007 and 2009 to look at the impact of poverty on children in 46 countries. The study focuses on the poverty and disadvantages faced by families with children by looking at gaps and opportunities in national poverty reduction strategies, including the demographic and economic context, employment, public and private social expenditures, fiscal space and foreign aid. In the Middle East and North Africa region, three other countries have carried out similar studies: Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. For more information, visit: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/index_45357.html.   

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Please visit www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:
Abdoulmalik Mohamed Banoita, UNICEF Djibouti,
Tel +253-83-08-08,

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East & North Africa,
Tel +962-6-550-2425,




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