The agency issued the report preparatory to marking the 70th anniversary of its work for the world’s most vulnerable children on Sunday.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement expressed regret that in spite of the significant progress, too many children were still being left behind.

“UNICEF was established to bring help and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict and deprivation.

“And this enormous figure – representing the individual lives of half a billion children – is a sharp reminder that our mission is becoming more urgent every day,” he said.

According to him, violence in many areas across the globe, especially in the Middle East region, has had a devastating effect on millions of children and families.

“In Syria, nearly 500,000 children live under siege, cut off from basic services,  while in north-eastern Nigeria, almost one million children are displaced.

“In Afghanistan, half of primary school age children are out of school and the conflict in Yemen has impacted almost 10 million children.

“These are just some of the regions where children live in a state of emergency.

“Overall, too many children are still being left behind, excluded because of their gender, race, religion or disability or simply because they are children,” he said.

Lake added: “Whether children live in a country in conflict or a country in peace, their development is critical not only to their individual futures but also to the future of their societies.”