UNICEF calls for increased protection of children during COVID-19 outbreak
Newly released technical guidance aims to help authorities strengthen protection measures for children during pandemic
BISHKEK, 25 March 2020 – UNICEF supports the Government of Kyrgyzstan in the introduction of emergency measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country. As part of the immediate response to this situation, UNICEF will focus its efforts, together with the Government, on ensuring the protection and wellbeing of children.
Hundreds of millions of children around the world will likely face increasing threats to their safety– including mistreatment, gender-based violence, exploitation, social exclusion and separation from caregivers – because of actions taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF, together with its partners at the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, has released a guidance to support authorities and organizations involved in the response.
In Kyrgyzstan, quarantine efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19, such as school closures and movement restrictions, while considered necessary, are disrupting children's routines and support systems. They are also adding new stressors on caregivers who may have to forgo work. Vulnerable populations, including children living in residential institutions and children of internal and external migrants, may be disproportionally affected by the undesired consequences of these measures.
“In many ways, COVID-19 may now reach children and families far beyond those it directly infects,” said Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan. “This guidance will provide authorities and institutions in the Kyrgyz Republic with an outline of practical measures that can be taken to keep children safe during these uncertain times”.
As part of the guidance, the Alliance is recommending that governments and protection authorities take concrete steps to ensure the protection of children is integral to all COVID-19 prevention and control measures, including:
- Ensure the protection of all children is given the utmost consideration in disease control measures;
- Provide targeted support to interim care centres and families, including child-headed households and foster families, to emotionally support children and engage in appropriate self-care;
- Train health, education and child services staff on COVID-19 related child protection risks, including on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and how to safely report concerns;
- Train first responders on how to manage disclosure of gender-based violence and collaborate with healthcare services to support GBV survivors;
- Increase information sharing on referral and other support services available for children;
- Engage children, particularly adolescents, in assessing how COVID-19 affects them differently to inform programming and advocacy;
- Provide financial and material assistance to families whose income generating opportunities have been affected; and
- Put in place concrete measures to prevent child-family separation and ensure support for children left alone without adequate care in case of hospitalization or death of a parent or caregiver.
Finally, as part of the support to the Government of Kyrgyzstan in the provision of messages to protect children, adolescents, caregivers and vulnerable groups from undesired outcomes of the current COVID-19 outbreak, UNICEF will continue its advocacy work via social media channels, national TV and the brand new dedicated website.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.