A study conducted by the United Nations children’s agency has found that one in four children in the Arab world lives in poverty and is deprived of basic necessities.
The study released on Monday by UNICEF found that 29 million Arab children were living in poverty.
The UNICEF study, which is based on the analysis of 11 countries including Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Yemen, said lack of education was a key driver of poverty among the youth.
“Children who live in households that are headed by an uneducated family member are twice as likely to live in poverty. One quarter of children aged 5 to 17 are not enrolled in school or have fallen two grades behind,” the UNICEF study found.
Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF’s social policy adviser for the Middle East and North Africa, said the children had often been deprived of the most basic necessities such as proper housing or safe water across the region.
“When we talk about poverty we think about income … but for children it’s about things like having access to education, decent housing, quality health care, nutrition, water and sanitation.”
Commenting on the study, Adel Abdel Ghafar, a political economist at the Brookings Doha Center think tank, said many of the poorest children were in rural areas.
“Developing these areas would alleviate poverty and also stop the pressure because a lot of these people can’t find jobs, can’t find opportunities, then they move to a city and put further pressure on the infrastructure of cities,” Reuters quoted Ghafar as saying.
Reacting to the study, Abdel Ghafar said this created “the lost generation” of young people lacking the right skills for the workforce. “What they suffer from now will have a carryover effect for the next decade or two.”
In mid-April, UNICEF warned that the ongoing Saudi aggression against Yemen may deprive a whole generation of children of education.
The UN has said that a Yemeni child under five dies around every 10 minutes from preventable causes such as starvation, poor sanitation or lack of medical care.
Over two years of Saudi Arabia’s war on the impoverished country has put more than half of all health facilities in Yemen in a state of complete or partial shutdown.
Latest tallies show that the Saudi war on Yemen has killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more since March 2015.