MANILA, 23 March 2020 – In line with efforts to stop the transmission of COVID-19 and the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country, UNICEF continues to support the Philippine government in encouraging children, parents, and caregivers to ensure the protection of the rights of children against violence, neglect, and abuse during these challenging situation.
While efforts to contain the virus understandably requires restrictive measures, UNICEF emphasizes that these measures should always be in the best interest of the child; should do no further harm; and always consider the preservation of the child’s welfare and dignity.
“In times of emergency, children are already confused and distressed from the fear and anxiety brought by the uncertainty of the spread of disease. We, at UNICEF, would want to ensure that there is a protective and caring environment for children at all times. We encourage the government to apply child friendly protocols in the implementation of community quarantine and ensure that all measures taken to protect children respond to their best interest,” said Patrizia Benvenuti, Chief of Child Protection of UNICEF Philippines.
UNICEF supports the Philippine Government in fighting COVID-19 through essential supplies, and support for logistics and transportation and the development of communication materials, as well as ensuring that the rights of children and their families are protected. UNICEF and its partners urge government officials to:
- Train health, education and child services staff on COVID-19 related child protection risks, including the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and how to safely report concerns;
- Ensure that children will not be arrested for instances of disobedience of the enhanced community quarantine measures and curfew and that provisions in the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act are respected;
- Supporting parents and caregivers to play their role in reassuring children by using child-friendly information to explain the situation and addressing their fears and feelings during this stressful time.
- Train first responders to manage disclosure of gender-based violence (Gender Based Violence Pocket Guide), and work 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 to inform programming and advocacy;
- Put in place concrete measures to prevent child-family separation, and ensure support for children left alone without adequate care due to the hospitalization or death of a parent or caregiver; and
- Ensure the protection of all children is given the utmost consideration in disease control measures.
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 in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.