Almost half of Asia's children, or 600 million, are severely deprived of food, healthcare and shelter, with 350 million of them living in "absolute poverty," the children's agency Plan said yesterday.
"Despite the focus on poverty in Africa at last month's G8 summit, Asia has more than twice as many severely deprived children as sub-Saharan Africa," Plan chief executive Tom Miller said.
"If it is not addressed now, this scale of poverty will have a serious impact on Asia's future prospects," he told a press conference in Bangkok.
In its latest report, Growing up in Asia, Plan blamed the poor state of children's welfare in Asia on population growth, lack of access to education, substandard healthcare, lack of clean water and, in some countries, "weak governance and corruption."
The organization has pledged to invest US$1 billion in poverty reduction across 12 Asian countries over the next decade.
But it noted that to truly combat poverty in Asia, the international community needs to reduce subsidies given to US, European and Japanese farmers, forgive billions of dollars in Third World debt and encourage rich countries to pay more for goods they purchase from the developing world.