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UNICEF urges Thailand to invest more in children, tackle post-pandemic poverty

Photo: UNICEF Thailand/2021/Sukhum Preechapanich

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund is calling on Thailand to do more to help families with children affected by poverty following the pandemic. UNICEF says Thailand must increase investment in children and introduce measures that tackle the high levels of poverty created by Covid-19. The organisation made its call yesterday, marking International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

According to a Nation Thailand report, UNICEF says the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and worsened inequality in Thai society. Those worst affected by the pandemic include families with children, who struggle with a higher cost of living, coupled with loss of income. Rising energy bills and food prices are exacerbating things and risk derailing any progress made by Thailand in its efforts to reduce poverty and invest in its people.

Last year, the National Economic and Development Council revealed that the poverty rate among children was nearly 10%, compared to 6.3% in the overall population. Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF’s representative in Thailand, says even as the economy starts to recover, families with children are being left behind.

“Tackling childhood poverty is a pressing priority for Thailand not only because the pandemic has pushed thousands below the poverty line, but also because its population is rapidly ageing. This requires a policy response that focuses on the needs of children and the most vulnerable to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery. Beyond quick-impact economic growth, we must also turn our attention to building human capital for long-term growth and prosperity.”

The report goes on to say that Thailand has made significant progress in its attempts to tackle poverty in recent decades, with the number of people living below the poverty line dropped from 67% in 1986 to 6.3% last year. In addition, measures taken during the pandemic, including the emergency top-up of the Child Support Grant, have prevented a significant rise in that rate.

According to Kyungsun, Thailand must continue its efforts to combat child poverty, by investing in the most vulnerable in order to benefit society as a whole.

“Investing in children is no longer an option. There is no choice to be made between long-term economic growth and supporting children, because providing a decent start for the children of Thailand is the best investment in securing a prosperous future for generations to come.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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