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On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In response, governments around the world took the unprecedented step of closing all schools as a way to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that school closures impacted almost 1.6 billion learners across 169 countries. Most children in this study experienced school closures, or partial or temporary re-openings, well into 2022. Education systems had very unequal capacities to respond to school closures with remote learning and support to children and families. The most common format remote learning took was online learning (91 per cent), yet 1.3 billion of the 1.6 billion students out of school had no internet connection at home—let alone a device to learn on—and internet literacy was extremely low among students, teachers, and parents.10 Moreover, the majority of the estimated 300 million learners with online access were in high- or middle-income countries. Children in humanitarian settings were among the least likely to be able to access digital education. This digital divide exacerbated education inequalities everywhere. In low-income and humanitarian settings, school closures also amplified the pre-existing learning and school access crisis and cut children off from the protective services schools often provide.
Children make up 50% of those affected in humanitarian crises and are disproportionately impacted by conflict and crisis. Throughout 2020 and 2021, COVID-19, conflict and climate change have been impacting children at unprecedented scale, putting them at risk and driving displacement, poverty and violence. Whilst funding for child protection is increasing, child protection consistently remains one of the most underfunded sectors in humanitarian action and funds not meeting increasing needs. Closing this gap will require collective action to change the way we think about children’s protection and its centrality to crisis response. This report highlights key areas associated with funding for child protection in humanitarian crises, including both cluster and refugee responses in 2020. A snapshot is also given for 2021 with data available as of October 2021
UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.
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