The abandoned children of Eastern Europe

February 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Bulgaria used family-style care centers to remove children with disabilities from state institutions. UNICEF says the Bulgarian orphanage population dropped from about 7,500 in 2010, to fewer than 1,200 children today.

Across the Black Sea, Georgia has had even more success. It reduced the number of state-run orphanages from 50 to two. The number of orphans dropped also, from 5,000 in 2005 to about 75 now, UNICEF says. However, Romania has made the largest improvement. The European Union has provided millions of dollars in aid to support Romanian child-welfare reforms. Private aid agencies like Hope and Homes for Children have helped place children with foster families or smaller homes where they experience a more usual childhood.

Main problems faced by children in Bulgaria:


Bulgaria remains one of the poorest countries not only in the EU but also in the Balkans. Some parents cannot even afford to provide proper nourishment for their children. Furthermore, food deficiencies, which hit youngsters hardest, prevent children from growing up into healthy young adults. Romany (Gipsy) communities are mostly affected by poverty. Their children are often required to work in order to make ends meet. With unemployment at over 80% for this minority, the adults suffer greatly from discrimination in the workplace. In turn, this affects the children since their unemployed parents cannot provide for them at a basic level.

Street children

Many steps have been taken to implement children’s rights and respond to the needs of those most at risk on the streets. There have been campaigns to increase public awareness and improved public understanding of the situation. Today, between 2,500 and 4,000 children are still sleeping rough. These are mostly Romany children finding shelter in Bulgaria’s larger cities. Besides the fact that these children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and economic or sexual exploitation, they live their day to day lives in horrific conditions. Lack of caring adults and a lack of food are just some of the realities faced by street children.

Child Stats: UN Data on the Plight of Children Worldwide

Orphans: An estimated 153 million children worldwide are orphans (UNICEF).

Child Labor: Worldwide, there are 168 million child laborers, accounting for almost 11% of children (ILO).


  • 263 million children and youth are out of school (UNESCO).
  • An estimated 61 million primary-school-age children are out of school; 53% of them are girls (UNICEF).


  • There are 69 million children worldwide who suffer from malnutrition (World Bank)
  • In 2017, 75% of malnourished children lived in less developed regions (WHO).
  • Nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of 5 can be attributed to undernutrition, resulting in the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year (UNICEF).
  • 66 million primary-school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone (WHO).


  • In 2017, 15,000 children under the age of 5 died every day, that’s equivalent to 1 child every 17 seconds (WHO).
  • Leading causes of death in under-5 year old are birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria. About 45% of child death are linked to malnutrition (WHO).
  • 2.7 million children die every year in the first month of life, and a similar number are stillborn (WHO).

Poverty: Children represent roughly a third of the world’s population but account for almost half of all people living in extreme poverty (UNICEF).

Refugees & Migrants

  • An unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are children (UNICEF).
  • 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children are missing in Europe (Europol).

 War & Conflict

  • There are over 250 million children living in countries affected by conflict (UNICEF).
  • 1 in 4 of the world’s children live in a conflict or disaster zone (UNICEF).
  • 20 people are forced to flee from their homes every minute (UNHCR).