The number of children living in multidimensional poverty has increased to nearly 1.2 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a UNICEF and Save the Children study released on Thursday.

The figure represents a 15% increase in the number of children living in deprivation in low- and middle-income countries, or an additional 150 million children since the beginning of the pandemic.

The multidimensional poverty analysis used data on access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation, and water from more than 70 countries.

It showed that around 45% of children were “severely deprived” of at least one of these critical needs before the pandemic.

The report warned that the situation is likely to worsen in the coming months.

Social protection, inclusive fiscal policies, investments in social services, and employment and labor market interventions to support families are “critical to lifting children out of poverty and preventing further devastation,” it said.

This includes expanding access to health care, providing the tools and technology needed for children to continue their education remotely, as well as investing in family-friendly policies, the report added.

In addition to more children experiencing poverty, “the poorest children are getting poorer as well,” it further warned.

Before the pandemic, the average number of severe deprivations per child was around 0.7, which increased to 0.85 post-pandemic, according to the study.

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