Image credit: Save The Children
Image credit: Save The Children

A new report by Save the Children said more than 1.2 billion children worldwide are at risk of dying before reaching age five. The second annual End of Childhood index revealed the five countries where children are most at risk are Niger, Mali, Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan.

The index is part of a report by Save the Children called "The Many Faces of Exclusion", which shows how "poverty, conflict and discrimination against girls are putting more than 1.2 billion children - over half of children worldwide - at risk for an early end to their childhood." "Children living in poverty face a higher risk of death before age five, malnutrition that stunts their growth, being out of school, and being forced into child labor or early marriage," it said. 

Poverty, child labour, lack of education

 The report said that in developing countries, one in five children live in extreme poverty, above all in sub-Saharan Africa, where 52% of the world's poorest children live, and in South Asia, where 36% live. In low-income countries, one in three school-aged children don't attend school, compared to less than four in 100 in high-income countries. The report said there is a strong correlation between poverty and child labour, as well as early marriage and early pregnancy. In less-developed countries, one in four children are forced to work, primarily in Africa and Asia, which have 72 million and 62 million children in this condition, respectively, out of a total of 152 million worldwide. 

The report said one in five children worldwide who die before age five come from fragile or conflict-affected countries. For example, in countries such as Syria or Yemen, children at their very young age have known no other life than that of bombs, violence, and desperation. Other examples are the serious humanitarian crises faced by Rohingya children, children fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the many other children who are malnourished and fighting for survival in Somalia, one of the world's poorest countries. 

Child brides among refugees 

Child marriage is particularly frequent in conflict-hit areas, where in many cases families organise marriages to protect their daughters from abuse and sexual violence. Among Syrian refugees in Jordan, for example, the percentage of girls who married before reaching 18 years old grew from 12% in 2011 to 32% in 2014. In Lebanon, currently, one in four Syrian refugee girls marry before age 18, while in Yemen the percentage of child brides is more than two-thirds the total of young people in the country, compared to half prior to escalation of the conflict there. "There are still too many obstacles that prevent so many boys and girls in the world from fully living their childhoods.Therefore we ask governments to concretely and efficiently work to ensure no child is left behind," said Valerio Neri, Director-General of Save the Children Italy. 

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