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Danzen You; Naomi Lindt; Rose Allen (et al.)
This article examines the socioeconomic challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses for children on the move across four dimensions: poverty, survival and health, learning and protection and safety. It also considers how new laws and regulations enacted in response to the pandemic are impacting these children. It then suggests the necessary policies and actions to protect this intensely vulnerable population. Many displaced children will see their family’s income shrink or disappear and, globally, poverty levels are expected to worsen. Vulnerable populations are predicted to disproportionately bear the brunt of this economic contraction. Poor health systems and disrupted health services – a reality for many migrant and displaced children – are likely to further weaken, placing children at risk of intensified hardship, both physical and psychological. The crowded conditions and poor access to proper water and sanitation common among families living in displacement pose obvious risks at a time when social distancing and hygiene are so critical. Migrant and displaced learners regularly encounter obstacles in accessing education, and the online materials and remote classrooms functioning around the world today may be far from their reach. They are at risk of falling further behind in school. And given that economic downturns typically lead to more children working, getting pregnant or married, and being trafficked or sexually exploited, migrant and displaced children – who already face great risks to their safety — stand to see their situation worsen. Domestic violence is on the rise globally, and accounts of stigma and discrimination against the displaced are also increasing. The increasing global death toll means some migrant and displaced children will be orphaned and become vulnerable to child protection abuses.
This report has been compiled jointly by 36 international organizations, under the aegis of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA).It covers different aspects of public and private life from economic and environmental fluctuations to changes that affect individuals in terms of income, education, employment and violence and changes affecting public services such as civil aviation and postal services. The report also puts a spotlight on the affects for some sub-population groups like women and children as well as geographical regions. Children already left behind will likely bear the brunt of the pandemic’s impact, whether through missing out on life-saving vaccinations, increased risk of violence, or interrupted education. Many children, especially those in the poorest households and the poorest parts of the world, risk losing their lives to pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, HIV and other preventable diseases unless urgent action is taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The UN Secretary-General has launched a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on children. The brief lays out the ways in which the virus will impact children. Whilst they appear largely to be spared the worst symptoms of the disease, they may well be among the biggest victims of the crisis in the long run because their education, nutrition, safety and health will be significantly undermined by the socioeconomic impact and by unintended consequences of the pandemic response. The harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighbourhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations. This policy brief provides a deeper analysis of these effects. It identifies also a series of immediate and sustained actions for the attention of governments and policymakers.
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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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response