Save the Children says one in four children in European Union countries is at risk of poverty.
A new report by the organisation found that the number of children driven to the brink of poverty increased by 200,000 in 2021 to reach 19.6 million.
The increase in the cost of living, the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic were behind the “alarming increase,” Save the Children said.
The figures were “devastating,” Eric Großhaus, advocacy manager of child poverty and social inequality for Save the Children Germany, said.
In Germany, more than two million children live in poverty.
“With one in five children in poverty nationwide, there can be no more excuses: the German government must finally deliver on its promises to tackle child poverty,” he said.
Children with migrant backgrounds – refugees, asylum-seekers, undocumented, and unaccompanied – were among the hardest hit, the report found.
In Italy, for instance, 32.4 per cent of migrants live in poverty, compared to 7.2 per cent of Italian nationals.
Children living in single-parent families, large-disadvantaged families, children with disabilities, and children belonging to ethnic minorities were also at risk.
Researchers used the AROPE indicator, the main instrument used to measure progress towards the EU 2030 target on poverty and social exclusion in Europe.
Spain and Romania scored highest with 33.4 per cent and 41.5 per cent of children at risk of poverty, or social exclusion, respectively.
Save the Children Europe director Ylva Sperling said no child should have to go to school on an empty stomach, worry about their parent’s job or live in a cold house.
“Yet, the impact of Europe’s many crises makes eating or heating no longer a choice for many families and deprives children of the essentials they need for their development and well-being,” she said. “Now is the time for bold decisions and strategic funding to rapidly expand protection and mitigate the downfall of the crises for current and future generations of children.”