Three million children in Thailand left behind by migrating parents

BANGKOK (Bernama) – About three million children in Thailand under the age of 17 have been left behind by migrating parents, a survey said.

The largest national survey on the situation of children and women in Thailand, released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said almost one in four children, or 24 per cent under the age of 17, are growing up without the care of their parents.

“The proportion is highest in the northeast of Thailand, 36 per cent, and among children from the poorest households (39 per cent),” it said.

The survey is conducted by NSO every three years with the support of UNICEF. The sixth Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey for Thailand (MICS 6) collected data of over 150 indicators on the health, development and protection of children and women in over 40,660 households across Thailand from May to November 2019.

The survey highlights a serious concern in child nutrition, with increasing rates of young children suffering from stunting, wasting, and being overweight, which could pose a long-term negative impact on their brain development, health and well-being.

The survey said 13 per cent of children under five years old are stunted or too short for their age due to inadequate nutrition over a long period of time.

It said eight per cent of children are wasted (low weight-for-height) and nine per cent are overweight.

“The findings show an increasing trend since 2015 when stunting, wasting and overweight rates among children under five were at 11, five and eight per cent.

“Across the country, Bangkok has the highest prevalence of stunting and overweight, both at 17 per cent,” it said.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative for Thailand Thomas Davin said Thailand has made impressive progress in improving the lives of millions of children in recent decades.

“However, the survey also underlines worrying trends in young children’s nutrition, secondary school drop-out rates and the number of children growing up without their parents.

“These key concerns which undermine children’s well-being will likely worsen due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and if not addressed, will pose a critical challenge in the face of Thailand’s ability to leverage its incredible human capital potential – the children,” he said.