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NEWS 01 Jun 17

Save the Children Notes Chasm Between Balkan Countries

New Save the Children report highlights big gap in child mortality rates, malnourishment and consequences of conflict between Croatia - at one end - and Albania - at the other.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Illustration. Photo: Pixabay

A new Save the Children International report on Wednesday, called "Stolen Childhoods", shows huge gaps in the standards of children's lives between the richest and poorest countries in the Balkans.

The End of Childhood Index focuses on a set of lifechanging events that signal the disruption of childhood and ranks 172 countries based on where childhood is most intact and where it is most eroded.

The criteria by which countries are ranked are child mortality rates, percentage of malnourished children, and the percentage of children out of school, who have started working, married, had a child of their own, or who ended up as victims of extreme violence.

The report shows a wide gap between the best and worst ranked Balkan countries. Croatia comes top in the region, high up in 25th place, while Albania much further down, in 71st place. The rest come in-between.

Save the Children reports that as many as 23 per cent of children up to five years old are stunted as a result of malnourishment in Albania, referring to the most recent data during the period 2005 to 2010. Albania also has the worst child mortality rate in the Balkans, 14 out of a thousand children under the age of five, according to the report.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is ranked in 35th place, since 4.6 per cent of its children have been forcibly displaced by conflict, according to the report.

Serbia comes in 41st place as the rreport estimates that 3.3 percent of children there are displaced by conflict. However, this number includes Kosovo, which was not monitored independently in the list of 172 monitored countries.

Montenegro ranked in 44th place and Bulgaria, where 36.8 in a thousand girls aged 15 to 19 have had a child, is in 49th place.

Romania also has a high adolescent birth rate of 34 in a thousand, placing it at 52nd place. Macedonia is in 56th place.

Save the Children reports that childhood ended far too soon for at least 700 million children worldwide – and perhaps hundreds of millions more – owing to poor health, conflict, extreme violence, child marriage, early pregnancy, malnutrition, exclusion from education and child labour.

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