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The Status of Orphans in Developing Countries

orphans in developing countries
Losing a parent is undoubtedly a traumatic experience for any child. It is an experience that will follow that child, likely playing a large role in their development and the opportunities they will have later in life.

Globally, 153 million children are orphans; the number of orphans in developing countries is enormous: 132 million. Here are 5 facts about the 132 million orphaned children in developing nations.

1. The large amount of orphans in developing countries is a result of many negative circumstances. Among these are natural disasters, famine and war. However, AIDS is the most significant reason children in a developing country lose their parents. In 2007 alone, AIDS left 15 million children orphaned after one or more of their parents passed away from the disease.

More than 24 percent of orphaned children had parents taken from them by AIDS. In 2008, 430,000 children were infected with the disease as well.

2. Asia holds the largest number of orphaned children, at 71 million – India alone is home to 31 million orphans. This is followed by Africa, which harbors 59 million.

3. Each day, 39,000 children are forced from their homes alone because of the death of a parent, family illness or abuse and abandonment.

4. After losing parents, circumstances for children drastically decline. They typically lack basic needs, like food and shelter. Education, however, is the first to be sacrificed, especially for older children who stop attending school to care for their younger siblings. These children try to provide for themselves and their younger siblings, often endangering their health.

The International Labor Organization reports that orphans are often found working in commercial agriculture, as well as street vending and housekeeping. Seven percent of orphans are stolen and sold into the sex industry.

5. The number of orphans is growing. Predictions for the next five to 10 years show the trend moving upward. By 2020, more than 200 million children could find themselves orphaned. This is almost three percent of the world population.

Despite the harsh reality of being orphaned in a developing country, it’s important to note that the rate of children becoming orphans in developing nations is finally slowing. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty in world history. It lays down a set of rights for each child and, as nations struggle to bring much needed care and protection to their orphans, provides pathways and options for each nation to do so.

Rachel Davis

Sources: Humanium, Moju Project, UNICEF
Photo: The Guardian