SPAIN continues to have one of the highest rates of child poverty in the European Union(EU) and amongst the members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to Unicef.

A report published on Wednesday by Innocenti, Unicef’s research office, shows the the poverty rate among Spanish children increased from 2014 to 2021 compared to the rest of the EU.

The study, which examines the evolution of child poverty during the seven-year period in the world’s richest countries, reveals that the poverty figure in Spain remains ‘stable’ at 28% child poverty.

In the Unicef league table it lies in 36th place out of 39, only ahead of the United Kingdom, Turkey and Colombia.

Between 2019 and 2021 it is also ranked 36th, only ahead of Romania within the EU, and in 2021 it had the highest child poverty rate in the EU.

Gustavo Suarez Pertierra, president of Unicef Spain, described the figures as ‘unacceptable’.

“Behind these statistics are children and adolescents who cannot afford to eat meat, poultry or fish at least once every two days or fruit and vegetables daily,” he said.

“They live in houses without an adequate temperature and don’t have suitable clothing, shoes or books and cannot participate in leisure activities or go on holiday once a year,” Suarez Pertierra continued.

He urged people not to ‘turn a blind eye’ to any child who does not enjoy ‘dignified living conditions’.

Unicef stressed that child poverty does not depend excessively on countries’ income levels, citing as an example Slovenia, which has a similar income level to Spain and yet has the lowest child poverty rate of 10%.

In Spain, the percentage of children in persistent poverty (two or more years in poverty) is the fourth highest of the European countries analysed- above 20% in the period from 2017 to 2019.

Also of concern are the rate of severe material and social deprivation, which in 2022 was 10.3% and places Spain in sixth place in the EU.

19.7% of Spanish cannot afford at least three products or services such as new clothes, two pairs of shoes, fruit and vegetables daily, school trips or suitable books

The report also highlights ‘huge inequalities’ in poverty risks amongst migrant families, the Roma community, those with a disability or those living in single-adult households – especially a woman.

Unicef Spain believes the creation of the Ministry for Youth and Children is an ‘opportunity’ to end child poverty.

“The problem of child poverty in Spain is structural, and must be addressed as such. Its reduction is possible, but it is a political decision,” added Suarez Pertierra, who demanded a ‘greater effort’ to do just that.

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