Britain and New Zealand are failing on children's rights, scoring lower than war-torn Syria and North Korea relative to their wealth in rankings released Tuesday by a children's group.
"Appalling" discrimination against migrant children and a lack of legal protection for poorer youths in New Zealand and the U.K. put them near the bottom of the annual survey by the Dutch nongovernmental organization (NGO) KidsRights. "It is shocking to see that even in countries [like the United Kingdom and New Zealand] that have realized substantial economic growth in recent years, this is not reflected in the daily reality of children," said Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of KidsRights and the former Dutch Children's Ombudsman. Britain ranked 170 and New Zealand 169 in a survey of 181 countries.Turkey ranked 28 on the list of 181 researched countries in the KidsRights Index. The annual KidsRights rankings, compiled with the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, use U.N. data to measure how countries measure up to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Afghanistan was worst, followed by Sierra Leone, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.
"Of course the situation in the U.K. is far better than in Afghanistan or Syria, but it's relative to their position," Dulleart said. "The message is that, considering their economic status and it is a democracy and it is a country not in war, then it is appalling in such a rich developed country that the score on the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the lowest score."
Booming economic growth in countries such as China, India and Myanmar is meanwhile failing to translate into better rights for children, the group said. According to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, China does not invest enough in children's rights. In Myanmar, education is lagging – the index shows that children only receive an average of 10 years of education. Rohingya children also face serious restrictions on their access to education in Myanmar. In a system of segregation building up to genocide in Myanmar, Rohingya children are often unable to attend mixed Rakhine-Rohingya schools but are instead kept in separate education facilities where the quality of education is off limits. As a result of Myanmar's ongoing human rights abuses against the Rohingya, more than 73 percent of them in Rakhine State self-identify as illiterate, according to the report. In India, nearly 36 percent of children younger than 5 are underweight. The NGO called on these countries, with their current economic growth levels, to invest more in efforts to address these deficiencies in children's rights.