Don’t let children be the hidden victims of COVID-19 pandemic—UNICEF

09 April 2020
Don’t let children be the hidden victims of COVID-19 pandemic—UNICEF
UNICEF Timor-Leste/2020/Galvin

Ninety-nine per cent of the world’s children live with some form of pandemic-related movement restrictions; Sixty per cent live in countries with full or partial lockdowns

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore


NEW YORK, 9 April 2020 – “The world is currently united in a shared struggle against an invisible enemy. But while our eyes are firmly focused on how to avoid or treat COVID-19, the serious consequences that will challenge us far beyond the current pandemic – the hidden impacts – are not yet front of mind. This must change.

“Not only are children and young people contracting COVID-19, they are also among its most severely impacted victims. Unless we act now to address the pandemic’s impacts on children, the echoes of COVID-19 will permanently damage our shared future.

“According to our analysis, 99 per cent of children and young people under 18 worldwide (2.34 billion) live in one of the 186 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Sixty per cent of all children live in one of the 82 countries with a full (7%) or partial (53%) lockdown – accounting for 1.4 billion young lives. 

“We know that, in any crisis, the young and the most vulnerable suffer disproportionately. This pandemic is no different. It is our responsibility to prevent suffering, save lives and protect the health of every child. We must also ensure that risk-informed decisions on COVID-19 control measures are made based on the best available evidence in order to minimize and prevent any collateral damage, and to provide mitigation measures so the damage is not lasting. 

“This starts with resisting the temptation, in times of potential global recession, to deprioritize investment in our future. Increased investments now in education, child protection, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation will help the world reduce the damage caused by this crisis and avoid future crises. The world will open up again, and when that happens, the resilience of the weakest health systems will be the gauge of how well we will do against future threats.

“Countries and communities around the world must work together to address this crisis. As we have learned painfully in the past two months, until there is a vaccine, coronavirus anywhere is a threat to people everywhere. We need to act now to strengthen health systems, as well as other child-focused social services, to keep track with global development priorities, in every country around the world.

“This week, UNICEF is launching our global agenda for action to protect the most vulnerable children from harm. The agenda has six pillars: 1) Keep children healthy; 2) Reach vulnerable children with water, sanitation and hygiene; 3) Keep children learning; 4) Support families to cover their needs and care for their children; 5) Protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse; and 6) Protect refugee and migrant children, and those affected by conflict. 

Without urgent action, this health crisis risks becoming a child rights crisis. Only by working together, can we keep millions of girls and boys healthy, safe and learning.

“In health, COVID-19 has the potential to overwhelm fragile health systems in low- and middle-income countries and undermine many of the gains made in child survival, health, nutrition and development over the last several decades. But too many national healthcare systems were already struggling. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, 32 per cent of children worldwide with pneumonia symptoms were not being taken to a health provider. What will happen when COVID-19 hits in full force? We’re already seeing disruptions in immunization services, threatening outbreaks of diseases for which there already exists a vaccine, such as polio, measles and cholera. Many more newborns, children, young people and pregnant mothers could be lost to non-coronavirus related causes if national healthcare systems, already under great strain, become completely overwhelmed. Likewise, many nutrition programmes are disrupted or suspended, as are community programmes for the early detection and treatment of undernourished children. We need to act now to preserve and strengthen health and food systems in every country around the world. 

“Likewise, protecting ourselves and others through proper handwashing and hygiene practices has never been more important. But for many children, basic water, sanitation and hygiene facilities remain out of reach. Globally, 40 per cent of the population, 3 billion people, still lack a basic handwashing facility with soap and water available at home – and this is as high as nearly three quarters of the population of the least developed countries. Let us ensure that every household, school, and health care facility has the means to a hygienic and healthy environment. 

“In education, an entire generation of children have seen their education interrupted. Nationwide school closures have disrupted the education of more than 1.57 billion students – 91 per cent – worldwide. We know from previous shutdowns that schoolchildren, and especially girls, who are out of school for extended periods of time are much less likely to return when classrooms reopen. The closure of schools also eliminates access to school-based nutrition programmes, driving malnutrition rates upwards. An entire generation of students could suffer damage to their learning and potential. Redoubling our commitments to education, and our investments in it, has never been more urgent.

“The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt hardest by the world’s most vulnerable children. Many already live in poverty, and the consequences of COVID-19 response measures risk plunging them further into hardship. As millions of parents struggle to maintain their livelihoods and income, governments must scale up social protection measures – providing social safety nets and cash transfers, protecting jobs, working with employers to support working parents, and prioritizing policies that connect families to life-saving health care, nutrition and education. 

“We know from previous health emergencies that children are at heightened risk of exploitation, violence and abuse when schools are closed, social services are interrupted, and movement is restricted. For example, school closures during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 resulted in spikes in child labor, neglect, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies. And the most common form of violence children face takes place in the home.    In a majority of countries, more than 2 in 3 children are subjected to violent discipline by caregivers. What happens when those children can’t leave home, cut off from teachers, friends, or protection services? And as millions of children turn to digital technology for a path to the outside world, how do we keep them safe from the risks and potential harmful consequences online? A social movement to stamp out violence and abuse of children, mirroring the movement to stamp out the violence experienced by women, is essential. The sooner it gets underway, the better our world will be. 

“Children already living through humanitarian crises must also not be forgotten during the COVID-19 response. 2020 was already set to be a year with more people than ever before in need of humanitarian assistance, and the vulnerabilities of children in crisis-affected countries will persist and likely be further compounded by the consequences of this pandemic, exposing them to a double jeopardy. The Secretary-General has launched a Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. It is up to the global community to come together in support of the most vulnerable children – those torn from their families and homes – to uphold their rights and protect them from the spread of the virus.

“Finally, defending children in the midst of this crisis means ensuring the availability and accessibility of life-saving supplies such as medicines, vaccines, sanitation and education supplies. The current COVID-19 outbreak is applying pressure on global manufacturer production and on logistics, and we are working with businesses on the production and procurement of essential commodities with fair distribution in mind. We want to support countries – particularly those with health systems under strain – to have equal access to supplies to fight COVID-19. We also need to make sure that travel restrictions, export bans and the current pressure on production capacity does not prevent us from sourcing and shipping essential supplies to support our interventions in health, education, and water and sanitation programmes, and in support of our humanitarian response.

“While we are currently focused during this lockdown period on the immediate concern of keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy, we must also remember the millions of children who risk becoming the forgotten victims of this pandemic. What their world looks like tomorrow, and what their futures ultimately look like, is also our responsibility today.

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For more information about COVID-19 and guidance on how to protect children and families, visit: www.unicef.org/coronavirus 

About UNICEF 
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook. 

About the Agenda for Action:

UNICEF spokespeople are available for interviews related to aspects of the agenda:

For general coronavirus:
Dr. Carlos Navarro Colorado, Principal Advisor, Public Health Emergencies 
Contact: Christopher Tidey, Tel: +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

For coordination of humanitarian response:
Manuel Fontaine, Director, Emergency Programmes
Contact: Christopher Tidey, Tel: +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

For health:
Dr Stefan Swartling Peterson, Associate Director, Health
Contact: Sabrina Sidhu, Tel: +1 917 476 1537, ssidhu@unicef.org

For education:
Robert Jenkins, Associate Director, Education
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

For exploitation, violence and abuse:
Cornelius Williams, Associate Director, Child Protection
Contact: Helen Wylie, Tel: +1 917 244 2215, hwylie@unicef.org

For handwashing, water and sanitation:
Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director, WASH 
Contact: Kurtis Cooper, Tel: +1 917 476 1435, kacooper@unicef.org

For social policy:
David Stewart, Chief of Social Inclusion and Policy
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

For early childhood development and family-friendly policies:
Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, Chief of Early Childhood Development
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

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UNICEF – La bele husik labarik sira sai vítima subar-subar husi COVID-19

Pusentu sia-nulu resin-sia husi labarik sira moris iha mundu balun forma restrisaun relasiona ho pandemia; Pursentu neen-nulu moris iha país sira ho blokiu total ka parsial 

Deklarasaun husi Diretora Exekutiva UNICEF Henrietta Fore


Nova Yorke, 9 Abril 2020 – “Mundu ne’e oras ne’e hamutuk hela atu funu hasoru inimigu invizivel. Maibe wainhira ita-nia matan haree hela ba oinsá atu evita husi ameasa COVID-19, konsekuensia sira seriu liu sira mak dezafia ita liu fali pandemia ne’e oras ne’e – impaktu sira mak subar hela – ita seidauk hanoin hetan. Ida ne’e tenke muda. 

“Laos labarik no foensa’e sira deit mak kontajia ona husi COVID-19, sira mós sai vítima mak afetadu liu. Karik lae ita-nia asaun oras ne’e atu ultrapasa impaktu pandemia ba labarik sira, COVID-19 nia eko sei estraga ita hotu-nia futuru permanentemente. 

“Tuir ita-nia analize, labarik no fonsa’e sira tinan 18 mai kraik pursentu sia-nulu iha mundu (billaun 2,34) moris hela ida husi país 186 ho forma movimentu restriksaun sira tamba COVID-19. Labarik sira pursentu 60 moris hela iha país ida husi 82 ho total (7%) ka parsial (53%) blokeadu – reprezenta foinsa’e sira billaun 1,4 nia moris.

“Ita hatene katak, iha krize hotu, foinsa’e sira mak vulneravel-liu sofre desproporsionalmente. Pandemia ida ne’e diferente. Ita-nia resposabilidade mak prevene sira ne’ebe sofre hela, salva moris no proteje labarik ida-idak nia saúde. Ita mós tenke garante katak risku – informasaun ba desizaun sira kona-ba kontrola medida COVID-19 sira halo bazeia ba evidenis mak desponivel atu minimiza no prevene estragu kolateral sira, no fornese medida mitigasaun sira atu nune’e estragus sira la bele kleur-liu. 

“Ne’e hahú ho rezistensia ba tentasaun, iha tempu sira disponivel ba resesaun global, hodi desvaloriza investimentu bai ta-nia futuru. Aumentu investimentu oras ne’e ba edukasaun, protesaun labarik, saúde no nutrisaun, no bee no saneamentu sei ajuda mundu reduz estragus sira kauza husi krize ne’e no evita tan krize iha futuru. Mundu ne’e nakloke tan, no wainhira ida ne’e akontese, reziliensia husi frakeza sistema saúde sira sei sai indikador di’ak oinsa atu ita halo hasoru ameasa ba futuru. 

“País no komunidade sira iha mundu rai-klaran tenke servisu hamutuk atu ultrapasa krize ne’e. hanesan aprende ona nia aat oins’a iha fulan rua liu ba, to’o ita hetan vasina, hodi kura ema husi koronavirus karik. We presiza tau halo asaun agora atu fortalese sistema saúde sira, hanesan mós servisu sosial sira mak foka ba labarik, atu matein tuir nafatin prioridade dezenvolvimentu global sira, iha país hotu iha mundu rai-klaran. 

“Iha semana ne’e, UNICEF lansa ita-nia ajenda ba asaun global atu proteje labarik sira vulneravel liu ba perigu. Ajenda ne’e iha pilar neen: 1) Mantein labarik sira saúdavel; 2) hakbesik bee ba labarik vulneravel sira, saneamentu ni ijiene; 3) matein labarik sira estuda nafatin; 4) Apoia familia sira atu rekupera sira-nia nesesidade sira no kuida sira-nia oan; 5) proteje labarik sira husi violensia, esplorasaun no abuzu; 6) proteje labarik refujiadu no imigrante sira, no sira ne’ebe afetadu husi konflitu. 

La ho asaun urjente, risku krize saúde ne’e sai fali krize direitu labarik. Ho deit servisu hamutuk, ita matein labarik feto no mane tokon ba tokon saudavel, seguru no aprende.

“Iha saúde, COVID-19 iha potensialidade atu hatodan sistema saúde ba país sira ho rendimentu mediu no hamenus rendimentu ba subrevivensia, saúde, nutrisaun no dezenvolvimentu iha dekade hirak liu ba. Maibe sistema kuidadu saúde nasional balunhalo ona esfrosu. Antes krize COVID-19, labarik pursentu 32 iha mundu iha simptomas pneumonia sira mak seidauk lori ba professional saúde. Saida mak akontese wainriha COVID-19 mai ho makaas? Ita haree ona interupsaun sira iha servisu imunizasaun, surtu ameasador moras sira mak hetan ona vasina, hanesan polio, sarampo no kolera. Bebé foin moris barak, labarik, foinsa’e no inan isin-rua sira prejudikadu laos tamba koronavirus maibe tamba sistema kuidadu saúde nasional, iha hela ona tensaun aas, sai kompletamente todan liu tan. Nune’e mós, programa nutrisaun sira interompidu no suspendidu, hanesan mós programe komunitariu sira ba detesaun dahuluk no tratamentu ba labarik malnutrisaun sira. Ita presiza atu atua agora atu prezerva no fortalese sistema saúde no aihan iha país hotu iha mundu.
 
“Hanesan mós ita proteje ita nia aan rasik no sira seluk liu husi fase liman ho di’ak no partika ijiene sira mak laiha importansia. Maibe ba labarik barak, bee moos, fasilidade saneamentu no ijiene sira sei susar atu hetan. Globalmente, populasaun pursentu 40, populasaun billaun 3, sei kuran fasilidade fase liman ho sabaun no bee iha uma – no númeru ne’e besik tolu baluk haat husi populasaun país menus dezenvolvidu sira. Mai ita asegura katak uma-kain hotu, eskola, no fasilidade kuidadu saúde hetan meiu sir aba ijiene no ambiente saudavel.   

“Iha edukasaun, jerasaun labarik tomak haree ona sira-nia edukasaun interompidu. Eskola sira taka iha nasaun tomak desturba edukasaun estudante billaun 1,57 liu – pursentu 91 – iha mundu. Ita hatene husi parelelizasaun anterior sira ne’ebe labarik ho idade eskola, no espesialmente labarik feto sira, mak sai husi eskola ba periudu ne’ene naruk sira barak la fila ba eskola wainhira eskola loke hikas. Eskola sira taka mós hamenus asesu ba eskola – bazeia ba programa nutrisaun sira, taxa malnutrisaun aumenta aas. Jerasaun estudante tomak sir abele sofre estragu sir aba sira-nia aprendijazen no potensialidade. Atu redobra ita nia kompromisu sir aba edukasaun, no ita nia investimentu ba ne’e, ne’e seidauk sai urjente.

Impaktu sosiu-ekonomiku husi COVID-19 sei sente makaas liu mak mundia-nia labarik vulneravel sira. Barak mak moris ki’ak, konsekuensia midida sira hsoru risku klean no difikuldade hasoru COVID-19. Inan-aman tkon ba tokon eforsa atu manten labrik nia moris infantil no rendimentu, governu tenke reforsa medida protesaun sosial sira – fornese rede seguransa sosial no transferensia osan sira, proteje empregu sira, servisu hamutuk ho empregador sira hodi apoia inan-aman sira ne’ebe servisu, prioritiza politika sira mak liga ho familia ba salva kuidadu saúde, nutrisaun no edukasaun.   

“Ita hatene ona husi esperiensia emerjensia sira uluk katak labarik sira hetan risku bo’ot liu ba esplorasaun, violensia no abuzu wainhira eskola taka, servsisu sosial sira interompidu, no moviventu militadu. Hanesan ezemplu, eskola sira taka durante surtu Ebola iha Afrika Osidental husi 2014 to’o 2016 rezulta traballu infantile sa’e, neglejensia, abuzu seksual no kaben sedu. Iha forma kumun husi violensia ba labarik sira hasoru ne’e akontese iha uma. Iha país barak, labarik 2 husi nain 3 hetan kastinu husi kuidador sira liu husi disiplina ho violensia. Saida mak akontese wainhira labarik sira ne’e la bele sai husi uma, la hasoru ho mestri sira, maluk sira, ka servisu protesaun sira? No wainhira labarik sira tokon ba tokon halai ba buka teknolojia dijital hanesan dalan ida atu sai ba mundu liur, oinsá ita atu maten sira seguru husi risku sira ne’e no konsekuensia perigu potensial husi online? Movimentu sosial ida atu hapara violensia no abuzu ba labarik sira, demonstra movimentu hapara esperiensia violensia hasoru feto sia mak esensial liu. Wainhira hahú sedu di’ak liu bai ta nia mundu. 

“Labarik sira mak moris ona husi krizi umanaria sira tenke mós la bele haluha wainhira hatan ba COVID-19. 2020 programadu ona atu sai hanesan tinan ida ho populasaun barak mak nunka presiza asistensia umanitaria, no labarik vulneravel sir aba krize iha país afetadu sira sei aguenta no karik aat liu tan ho konsekuensia pandemia ne’e, halo sira hetan ameasa dobru. Sekretariu Jeral lansa ona Planu Hatan ba Umanitariu Global ba COVID-19. Ne’e depende ba komunidade global atu mai hamutuk hodi apoia labarik sira vulneravel liu – lilu-liu ba sira ne’ebe la iha serteza moris iha famila no uma – atu defende sira-nia direitu no protejidu husi propagasaun virus.

“Finalmente, defende labarik sira iha krize nia klaran katak asegura disponibilidade no asesibilidade ba suprimentu salva vida sira hanesan aimoruk, vasina, suprimentu saneamentu no edukasaun sira. Propagasaun COVID-19 atual fó presaun makaas ba fabrika produsaun no lojistiku sira, no ita servisu hela ho impreza produtora sira no akizisaun sasan esensial sira ho distribuisaun ne’ebe justu. Ita hakarak atu apoia país sira - partikularmente sira ne’ebe ho presaun sistema saúde – atu hetan asesu hanesan ba suprimentu sira hosi hasoru COVID-19. Ita mós presiza garante restriksaun transporte, proibisaun esportasaun sira no presaun bai ha kapasidade produsaun la prevene ita husi hatama sasan no transporta suprimentu esensial sira hodi apoia ita-nia investimentu ba saúde, edukasaun, no programa bee no saneamentu sira, no iha apoiu ba ita-nia hatan ba umanitaria.    

“Wainhira ita agora foka hela ba periudu blokeamentu kona-ba preokupasaun husi maten salva ita-nia moris no ita-nia domin sira-nia saúde, ita tenke mós hanoin labarik tokon ba tokon ne’ebe haluha hela hanesan vitima husi pandemia ne’e. saida mak mundu-nia haree hanesan horseik, no saida mak ita-nia futuru oin mai sai oinsá, ne’e mós ita-nia responsabilidade ohin loron.

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Informasaun dtallu kona-ba COVID-19 no matadalan oinsá atu proteje labarik no familia sira, vizita: www.unicef.org/coronavirus 

Kona-ba Ajenda hodi foti Asaun:
UNICEF-nia postavoz disponivel ba intrevista relasiona ho aspetu sira husi ajenda:

Ba coronavirus em jeral: 
Dr. Carlos Navarro Colorado, Principal Advisor, Public Health Emergencies 
Contact: Christopher Tidey, Tel: +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

Ba kordenasaun hatan ba umanitaria:
Manuel Fontaine, Director, Emergency Programmes
Contact: Christopher Tidey, Tel: +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

Ba Saúde:
Dr Stefan Swartling Peterson, Associate Director, Health
Contact: Sabrina Sidhu, Tel: +1 917 476 1537, ssidhu@unicef.org

Ba Edukasaun:
Robert Jenkins, Associate Director, Education
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

Ba esplorasaun, violensia no abuzu:
Cornelius Williams, Associate Director, Child Protection
Contact: Helen Wylie, Tel: +1 917 244 2215, hwylie@unicef.org

Ba fase liman, bee no saneamentu:
Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director, WASH 
Contact: Kurtis Cooper, Tel: +1 917 476 1435, kacooper@unicef.org

Ba politika sosial:
David Stewart, Chief of Social Inclusion and Policy
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

Ba dezenvolvimentu sedu ba labarik no politika amigavel ba familia sira:
Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, Chief of Early Childhood Development
Contact: Georgina Thompson, Tel: +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org

Media Contacts

Rukshan Ratnam
Communication Specialist (English)
UNICEF Timor-Leste
Tel: +67077231103
Tel: +670 331 1300, Extension: 1820
Antonio Gomes
Communication Officer (Tetum)
UNICEF Timor-Leste
Tel: +670 7723 2441
Tel: +670 331 1300, Extension: 1821

About UNICEF

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 Timor-Leste and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/timorleste

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