UN chief calls for greater protection for children
In a statement on the new findings, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent action to support the world’s children amid the universal crisis.
“Thankfully, children have so far been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease. But their lives are being totally upended”, he said. “I appeal to families everywhere, and leaders at all levels: protect our children.”
The report finds that the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, together with measures to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, could potentially be catastrophic for millions of children worldwide.
Practically all students worldwide are now out of school because of the pandemic. Nearly 190 countries have imposed school closures, affecting 1.5 billion children and young people.
The report stated that the losses in learning today, and in their future development, are hard to fathom. “Some schools are offering distance learning, but this is not available to all”, the Secretary-General said, adding that children in countries with slow and expensive Internet services are severely disadvantaged.
Child nutrition is another vital concern, according to the report. The UN chief recalled that even before the pandemic, childhood malnutrition and stunting were at unacceptable levels.
With classrooms shuttered, the nearly 310 million children worldwide who rely on school meals are missing out on this daily dose of nutrition.
“With the global recession gathering pace, there could be hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020”, the Secretary-General warned.
The Secretary-General said: “With the pandemic placing so many of the world’s children in jeopardy, I reiterate my urgent appeal: let us protect our children and safeguard their well-being.”