JERUSALEM (May. 31)
The number of poverty-stricken children in Israel rose last year by a sharp 40 percent, according to a report by the National Council for Child Welfare. Some 114,000 children were raised last year by families whose only income was minimum welfare payments, according to official figures released by the National Insurance Institute.
In 1990, only 79,000 children came from poverty-stricken families.
The sharp rise in the number of poor children was explained by the fact that too many immigrants have remained jobless. Some 26,000 of the poverty-stricken children are new immigrants.
About 25 percent of all immigrant children belong to families whose only earnings are the minimum income provided by the state, compared to 7 percent of the total population who receive welfare.
Particularly hard-hit are immigrants from the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union, where dire economic difficulties have caused malnutrition and even hunger among the children, according to the Child Welfare Council.
Dozens of these children are subsisting on only margarine sandwiches and lack warm meals and other food of nutritious value.
At the same time, children do not receive appropriate medical care because their parents cannot pay medical insurance, and others cannot join school activities such as trips out of town, because the parents cannot afford them.
Yitzhak Kadman, director-general of the council, urged the government to come up with an immediate emergency plan to cope with the problem of poverty among Israeli children.