Report: Qatar is the safest place for children in the Arab world
Qatar is the best place in the Arab world for children to grow up safely, securely and healthily, according to a new global index by Save The Children.
The international charity’s inaugural Stolen Childhoods: End of Childhood report, published this month, rated 172 countries according to their living standards for children and adolescents.
It examined several factors relating to health, society, politics and culture that can impact a child’s safety and security.
With a score of 947, Qatar ranked 34th overall, and was the top Arab country. Globally, it was just behind Singapore (33th) but ahead of the US (36th).
All the Gulf states included came in the top 50. The next best performing was Kuwait in 38th place (938 points), followed by Oman at 43rd and Saudi Arabia at 47th.
The UAE and Bahrain did not feature in the index due to insufficient data, the report said.
Countries were measured according to eight indicators:
- Under-five mortality;
- Child (mal)nutrition;
- Children out of school;
- Incidence of child labor;
- Adolescent girls (15-19 years) married or in a union;
- Birth rate for adolescent girls;
- Child homicide rate; and
- Figures for population forcibly displaced due to conflict.
Scores were given for each indicator to create an overall country score which then determined the ranking of each state.
According to the report, the nations with the highest scores held the top rankings, because their children were presumed to have the most protected childhoods.
Meanwhile, children in countries at the bottom of the table were most at risk of having their childhoods ended prematurely, the report said.
The index is the first in what will be an annual examination of countries’ performance by Save the Children.
The charity estimates that at least 700 million children globally have faced circumstances – which it described as “an assault on the future of our children” – that have ended childhood prematurely.
“Childhood should be a safe time of life for growing, learning and playing. Every child deserves a childhood of love, care and protection so they can develop to their full potential. But this is not the experience for at least a quarter of our children worldwide,” the report said.
In terms of risk factors for kids, Qatar was classified as “very low.” According to the statistics cited in the report:
- Child mortality was recorded at 8/1,000 live births;
- Only 4 percent of children are classified as “out of school;”
- Some 4 percent of girls (15-19 years) are recorded as being married or in a union; and
- The birth rate for adolescent girls is 10.5 per 1,000.
Meanwhile, the child homicide rate (deaths up to age 19) per 100,000 population was reported as 2.9, which the report said was “low.”
There were no figures included for malnutrition or children in child labor. No children were recorded as being displaced due to conflict.
Nevertheless, Qatar is still grappling with high rates of childhood obesity and diabetes.
Figures from 2013 found that one third of its boys (under 20 years) were overweight or obese – the highest percentage in the MENA region.
Although the figure for girls under 20 was lower, at 22 percent, it had nearly doubled since 1980 and medical experts have previously warned of a potential childhood obesity epidemic in the country unless social changes take place.
Authorities in the country have responded through public initiatives to encourage more active lifestyles and dissuade people from eating excessive amounts of fast-food.
In comparison, Saudi Arabia came behind Qatar in the report due to factors such as a higher child mortality rate – 14.5 per 1,000 live births.
Additionally, nearly 10 percent of children under five years in the Kingdom were classified as malnourished, according to the report.
Best and worst
The top of the index was dominated by European countries, with Norway and Slovenia taking joint first place, followed by Finland.
The only non-European country in the top 10 was South Korea, which shared 10th place with Germany.
At the opposite end of the scale, seven of the bottom 10 countries were from West and Central Africa.
Mali came in at 170th, followed by Angola and then Niger last, at 172nd and with a score of just 384.
In Niger, 95.5 children per 1,000 die under the age of five, 43 percent of children under the age of 3.5 years old are malnourished, more than half (54.6 percent) of children are out of school and nearly one-third of five to 14-year-olds are working.
The report added:
“Millions of children around the world are left behind, either by design or neglect. They are missing out on quality health care and basic learning simply because of who they are or where they live.”