The coronavirus pandemic could drive an estimated 42 to 66 million children to extreme poverty, and the economic downturn resulting from the outbreak could lead to hundreds of thousands more deaths among children in 2020, the United Nations said on Thursday.
"Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they run the risk of being one of the biggest victims. Although, thankfully, they have largely been spared the direct health effects of COVID-19 – at least to this day – the crisis has had a profound impact on them Well-being, "said a new Policy Brief: The Effects of COVID-19 on Children, published by the United Nations on Thursday.
The letter states that there are three main channels through which children are affected by this crisis – infection with the virus itself; the immediate socio-economic impact of measures to stop the transmission of the virus and end the pandemic; and the possible longer-term effects of delayed implementation of the sustainable development goals.
It is said that an estimated 42-66 million children may experience extreme poverty this year as a result of the crisis, adding to the estimated 386 million children already living in extreme poverty in 2019.
The pandemic has also exacerbated the learning crisis as 188 countries have closed schools across the country, affecting more than 1.5 billion children and adolescents.
"The potential losses that learning can generate for today's young generation and for the development of their human capital are difficult to fathom," it said.
More than two-thirds of the countries have introduced a national distance learning platform, but in low-income countries the share is only 30 percent. Before this crisis, almost a third of the world's young people were digitally excluded.
Johns Hopkins University estimates that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has exceeded two million, and 139,419 people have died so far. The United States is worst affected with more than 640,000 COVID19 cases and 31,000 deaths.
Regarding threats to child survival and health, the policy said: "The economic plight of families as a result of the global economic downturn could lead to hundreds of thousands more deaths in children in 2020 and reverse the last two to three years of progress." in reducing child mortality within a single year. "
This alarming figure does not even take into account services disrupted by the crisis – it only reflects the current relationship between the economy and mortality.
It has also been added that malnutrition is expected to increase as 368.5 million children in 143 countries, who typically rely on school meals, to find a reliable source of daily nutrition, must now look for other sources. "The risks to the mental health and well-being of children are also considerable. Refugees and internally displaced persons, people in custody and in situations of active conflict are particularly at risk."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued the policy letter, saying that while the poorest and most vulnerable members of society are most affected by the pandemic, he is "particularly concerned about the well-being of the world's children".
Although children have largely been spared the most severe symptoms of the disease, their lives are completely changed.
"This is a universal crisis of unprecedented scale. All children of all ages and in all countries are affected. However, some children are destined to bear the greatest costs. Among the severely affected are children who live in slums. Refugee and displacement camps as well as zones of active conflict. Children with disabilities. Children living in institutions and detention centers. "
Guterres urged nations to respond to any of these threats to children now, saying leaders must do everything in their power to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
"What started as a public health emergency has become a tremendous test of the global promise not to leave anyone behind," he said.
The report urged governments and donors to prioritize education for all children, and recommended that low-income families receive economic support, including money transfers, and minimize disruption to children's social and health services.
"We must also prioritize the most vulnerable – children in conflict, child refugees and displaced people, children with disabilities," said Guterres, adding that the pandemic is putting so many children in the world at risk, "I repeat my urgent appeal: leave protect our children and protect their well-being. "