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Dramatic Inequality Among World's Richest, Poorest Children: 69 Million Will Die Of Preventable Causes, Says UNICEF

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A new UNICEF report has found dramatic inequalities among the world's richest and poorest children. By 2030, about 69 million children will die from preventable causes before they turn 5 years old if nothing is done to address global poverty, the UNICEF report estimates.

The annual report, which was issued on June 28, notes that children suffering from poverty are twice more likely than rich children to die before they reach the age of 5. Almost half of these poverty-related child deaths could occur in sub-Saharan African communities. If nothing is done, 9 out of 10 children in the region will live in extreme poverty, which suggests living on less than $1.90 daily.

The report also notes that the number of out-of-school youth is rising and the rate of child marriages has not seen a reduction in decades. Moreover, girls from poor communities are more than twice as likely to end up as child brides.

"Some of the big challenges that we now face, like refugees and migrants, are connected with inequality and poverty," said UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth, adding that reduction in inequality is not only beneficial for the children but it is "also good to stop future crises."

Apart from addressing poverty, promoting children's education, especially among young girls, is one of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. This initiative, which was adopted last year, contains a set of 17 goals designed to address a variety of global woes by the year 2030.

On average, each year spent on education increases a child's adult earnings by approximately 10 percent. Moreover, each additional school year completed by young adults lowers the nation's rate of poverty by 9 percent on average.

Education benefits mortality as well. Children who were born to educated mothers are nearly three times less likely to die early, the report says. These children are also more likely to delay marriage and childbirth and attend school.

Unfortunately, about 124 million children around the world do not receive primary and lower-secondary education. In 2011, the estimated numbers surged by 2 million.

Given so, the UNICEF report calls for stronger initiatives toward children's education.

"Denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures - by fueling intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, it imperils the future of their societies," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF's executive director.

Lake added that the world has a choice - either to invest in saving these children's futures today or step back and see the world become a more divided and unequal place.

UNICEF's "State of the World's Children" is available online.

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