More than half of all children (51%) under 18 in Romania are at risk of poverty, more so than when the Eastern European country joined the EU in 2007 (50.5%), data has revealed.
The research by Eurostat, which was carried out over all 28 EU countries, positions Romania with the highest threat to children at risk of poverty in the EU, ahead of Bulgaria, which has seen a 16.2% drop from 61% to 45.2%.
More than a quarter of all children (27.7%) in Europe - about 26 million - are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, which has prompted EU countries to make tackling the issue a priority in policy decisions.
Adrian Oras, Coordinator for the Europe-wide campaign group Opening Doors, said: “Poverty rates (child poverty included) have taken a turn for the worst since the global economic crisis of 2008. Although 7 years since its inception [to the EU], Romania still feels the effects of inadequate responses to crisis, hasty measures that severely affected a social system that was just being developed.”
Poverty rates in Romania tend to be highest in rural areas, where 45% of the country’s population live - the highest proportion in the EU - and where a lack of infrastructure blights the countryside, affecting everything from schools to medical facilities. Romania’s highest point of child poverty risk was in 2012 with 52.3%.
70% of this rural population, according to The World Bank, are living in poverty due to authorities’ inability to intervene appropriately.
“Social assistance needs to look at the most stringent needs of marginalised communities and families: access to basic resources and universal services, the provision of a combination of social, health and educational services at grassroots level, access to educational services, access to jobs available on the labour market, development of infrastructure with a focus on social housing available for families with children at risk and young care leavers alike,” Oras said.
A large majority of Romania’s rural population living in poverty are subsistence farmers and unemployed rural workers, whose children often lack sufficient education levels, while the household may lack capital to secure any financial prospects such as loans to develop agricultural businesses or other.
According to Oras, child poverty has worsened for three main reasons: a higher rate of unemployment, a wider gap between rural and urban areas in terms of investment, education, and employment opportunities, and a general descending economic trend after the 2008 financial crisis.
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