In Iran today, 15% of children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition and the probability of dying before the age of five is approximately 34%. Furthermore, 75% of children under the age of five are without health insurance.
In provinces such as Sistan and Baluchistan, these statistics are much more dire. Out of a population of 1,723,000, only 22% of child deliveries are in a hospital setting and only 35% of them are attended by trained personnel.
According to Dr. Alireza Kordi, head of the Family Cultural Center (Farhangsaraye Khanevadeh), the number of street children in Iran, is estimated to some 200,000 (http://www.iranstreetchildren.com/News01.htm).
The majority of these children run away from home to escape physical and sexual abuse from their family members. Because very few shelters exist in Iran for runaways, the majority of them become street children, and, in the case of young girls, are often lured into prostitution rings. An average of 50 girls per day are rounded-up in Tehran, and the number of young runaways has increased by 12% since 2000.
Recent reports in the Iranian press that 100 to 150 of the country’s street children die each month have shed new light on the plight of small children who are forced to work on the streets. (http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2000/12/07122000191846.asp)
With statistics as unsettling as these, there is no doubt that Children of Persia is a much-needed organization.