More than 11,000 children in Derry are living below the poverty line, it has been revealed.
The shock statistic was revealed by social development minister Nelson McCausland in the Assembly last week.
The figures show that 40% of children in Derry are living in poverty - the highest rate of child poverty anywhere in the north.
Fergus Cooper, head of charity Save the Children in the north, says the number of children living in poverty is of growing concern.
“Ultimately, we are only going to resolve the issue if we can achieve a reduction in overall unemployment.
“As Chair of the Child Poverty Alliance, I can say that we are all concerned about the growing issue of child poverty. It’s getting worse.”
The minister’s figures, which cover the period 2005-2009, show that in the Foyle area a total of 11,200 children, or 40% of all Derry children live in poverty - that’s almost three times higher than child poverty levels in Lagan Valley (14%) and Strangford (14%) and four and a half times higher than the child poverty level in South Belfast (9%).
Speaking in the Assembly last month, Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson said moves to tackle child poverty were ongoing.
“The child poverty strategy was published on 24 March 2011 and set out the actions proposed by the Executive to address child poverty here.
“It is intended that there will be a public consultation when the delivery plan has been developed and has gone through the formal approval process, including initial approval by the ministerially-led poverty and social inclusion stakeholder forum,” she said.
it will be issued for public consultation.”