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Source: Save The Children

A study published in The Lancet on children impacted by COVID-19, saying an estimated 1.1 million children have lost at least one parent or custodial grandparent, is a wake-up call that cannot be ignored, Save the Children said today.

Governments and organisations need to step up and protect these children, Save the Children said, to prevent them from falling victim to hunger, abuse, poverty or exploitation, or being put into institutional care.  

“We cannot allow any more victims, even if indirect, of this pandemic. If we do not protect this generation, they run the risk of being left behind. As children lose one or even two parents, families are often pushed further into poverty, which can mean children will drop out of school and work, to help with the family income. These children will not return to school, and will likely be trapped in a cycle of poverty”, said Bidisha Pillai, Global Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns Director for Save the Children.

The impact of the coronavirus has already worsened the living conditions of children around the world, Save the Children said, undermining decades of progress made to safeguard the most vulnerable, and severely affecting their future. Weak health systems and child protection systems have collapsed and, where many families have plunged into poverty, child malnutrition rates have increased as families have lost their sources of income and sometimes their livelihoods.

“Without caregivers, children are particularly vulnerable,” Ms Pillai continued. “The pandemic undermined the education of hundreds of millions of children, and the loss of school days exposed girls, boys and adolescents to the risk of child labour, early marriage and pregnancy, and permanently dropping out of school.”

“Save the Children urges institutions and governments around the world to pay urgent attention to the situation of orphaned children who have lost parents and caregivers and ensure they are cared for – for example through financial support for families who have lost one or even two caregivers. Years of working with impacted children have shown us that governments need to look at strengthening family-based care systems. So children who have lost one or both parents can be kept safe in family settings, instead of being sent to an institution.”

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