More than half of the world's children, or more than 1.2 billion, are threatened by poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls, Save the Children said in a report published Wednesday.
In its second annual "End of Childhood Index," published ahead of International Children's Day, the London-based charity said more than 153 million children lived in countries where they faced all three threats.
"More than half the world's children start their lives held back because they are a girl, because they are poor or because they are growing up in a war zone," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the charity's chief executive, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP). "Governments can and must do more to give every child the best possible start in life," she added.
"The fact that countries with similar levels of income deliver such different outcomes for children shows that policy, funding and political commitment make a critical difference."
The situation for children in 95 of 175 countries had improved since last year, it added, but "conditions appear considerably worse" in about 40 countries.The index looks at events that "rob children of their childhoods," including malnutrition, early pregnancy, exclusion from education, child labor, child marriage and extreme violence.
Singapore and Slovenia came top in the ranking, with Norway, Finland and Sweden following. Eight of the 10 last countries were in West and Central Africa, with Niger at the bottom.
The report identified 10 major trends it said required urgent action, including current levels of displacement, which it said were the highest on record, and predicted rises in the number of child marriages and adolescent pregnancies.
It also said that 240 million children lived in countries affected by conflict and fragility, and that 30 per cent of the countries included in the index were characterized by discrimination against girls."This means staggering numbers of girls worldwide face exclusion on many fronts," the report stated, noting that complications during pregnancy and childbirth were the number one killer of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide.
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