A study by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF shows that one in four children in the Middle East and North Africa lives in poverty and deprivation, lacking even the most basic necessities, such as proper housing and safe water.

The study, released this week, covered 11 Arab countries and found that 29 million children live in poverty, deprived of two or more life necessities, including basic education, nutritious food, safe water, sanitation and access to information.

The study, the first to collect data on child poverty across the region, found that lack of education is a key driver of poverty among the young.

It says that “children who live in households that are headed by an uneducated family member are twice as likely to live in poverty. One-quarter of children aged 5 to 17 are not enrolled in school or have fallen two grades behind.”

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Geert Cappelaere said that child poverty is about much more than family income — it is about access to quality education, health care, a home and safe water.

He also warned that future families could become impoverished for at least three generations. “When children are deprived of the basics, they are at risk of getting trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty,” he said.

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