Futures of 370 million children in jeopardy as school closures deprive them of school meals – UNICEF and WFP

29 April 2020
Futures of 370 million children in jeopardy as school closures deprive them of school meals – UNICEF and WFP
UNICEF Timor-Leste/2019/Bsoares

ROME/NEW YORK, 29 April 2020 – As the COVID-19 crisis pushes up levels of hunger among the global poor, the World Food Programme and UNICEF are urging national governments to prevent devastating nutrition and health consequences for the 370 million children missing out on school meals amid school closures.

“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day. Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty. We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe and to ensure that no one is left behind,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. 

School meals are especially critical for girls. In many poor countries, the promise of a meal can be enough to make struggling parents send their daughter to school, allowing her to escape heavy domestic duties or early marriage.

“School is so much more than a place of learning. For many children it is a lifeline to safety, health services and nutrition. Unless we act now – by scaling up lifesaving services for the most vulnerable children – the devastating fallout caused by COVID-19 will be felt for decades to come,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

Alongside school meal programmes, children in poor countries often benefit from health services - such as vaccinations and deworming - delivered through their schools. 

In response to a recent report from the United Nations Secretary-General, which highlighted the number of children missing out on school meals, WFP and UNICEF are working with governments to support children who are out of school during the crisis. In 68 countries, governments and WFP are providing children with take-home rations, vouchers or cash transfers as an alternative to school meals. 

Under the partnership, WFP and UNICEF will assist governments in the coming months to ensure that when schools reopen returning children benefit from school meals and health programmes. This will also provide an incentive for parents to send their children back to school. The agencies are also working together to track children in need of school meals through an online School Meals map

To support this work – which will initially focus on 30 low-income or fragile countries to support 10 million children – UNICEF and WFP are appealing for US$ 600 million. Their work will be closely aligned with the UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition, a global push to ensure children keep learning despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19.  

About World Food Programme:
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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.

For further information, please contact:
David Orr, WFP, +39 340 246 6831, David.orr@wfp.org
Georgina Thompson, UNICEF, +1 917 238 1559, gthompson@unicef.org



UNICEF ho WFP - Labarik Millaun 370 nia futuru iha perigu tamba eskola taka halo sira la han iha eskola 

Roma/Nova Yorke, 29 Abril 2020 – Medida sira krize COVID-19 aumenta nivel hamlaha entre ki’ak iha mundu, Organizasaun Programa Aihan no UNICEF apela ona ba governu nasional sira atu prevene konsekuensia falta nutisaun no saúde ba labarik sira millaun 370 mak lakon oportunidade atu han iha eskola tamba eskola sira taka.
“Ba labarik sira tokon- ba tokon iha mundu, aihan ne’ebe sira hetan iha eskola ne’e mak aihan ne’ebe sira bele hetan iha loron ida. Se lae karik sira hetan hamlaha, perigu ba sira atu hetan moras, sai husi eskola no lakon sira-nia oportunidade atu eskapa husi ki’ak. Ita tenke halo buat ruma agora hodi prevene hodi pandemia saúde ne’e sai fali katástrofe hamlaha ida no atu garante katak la iha ida husik hela ba kotuk,” dehan Diretor Exekutivu WFP David Beasley.  

Aihan iha eskola mak espesialmente krítiku ba labarik feto sira. Iha país ki’ak barak sira, promete aihan bele nato’on ona hodi inan-aman sira haruka sira-nia oan feto sira ba eskola, permite labarik feto sira eskapa husi servisu domestiku ka kaben sedu.

“Eskola mak liu fali espasu ida hodi estuda. Ba labarik barak salvasaun ida ba seguransa, servisu saúde no nutrisaun sira. Karika ita la halo buat ruma agora – hodi hasa’e servisu salvamentu ba labarik vulneravel sira – konsekuensia la di’ak kauza husi COVID-19 sei sente liu tan iha dékade sira tuir mai,” dehan Henrietta Fore, Diretora Exekutiva UNICEF.

Alende programa han iha eskola sira, labarik sira iha país ki’ak hetan benefisiu beibeik husi servisu saúde sira- hanesan vasinasaun no desparatizasaun – mak sira bele hetan husi sira-nia eskola.

Atu hatan ba relatoriu resente husi Sekretariu Jeral Nasoins Unidas, ne’ebe subliña kona-ba núneru husi labarik sira la hetan oportunidade han iha eskola, WFP ho UNICEF servisu hela ho governu sira atu apoia labarik sira mak la eskola durante krize ne’e. iha país 68, governu no WFP fornese ba labarik sira ransu sira lori ba uma, billeti ka transferensia osan hanesan alternativu ba aihan iha eskola.  

Liu husi parseria ne’eduni WFP no UNICEF sei ajuda governu sira iha fula hirak mai ne’e atu garante katak wainhira eskola sira loke hikas fali ona labarik sira bele benefisia husi han iha eskola no programa saúde sira. Ne’e sei oferese insentivu ba inan-aman sira atu haruka oan sira ba fali eskola. Ajensia sira mós servisu hamutuk hela atu buka hatene labarik sira-nia nesesidade ba aihan eskola liu husi online School Meals map.  

Atu apoia servisu ne’e – ne’ebe inisialmente foka ba país 30 ho rendimentu ki’ik atu apoia labarik millaun 10 – UNICEF ho WFP apela ba dollar millaun 600.  Sira-nia servisu aliñadu ho UNESCO – lidera Koligasaun Edukasaun Global, esforsu global hodi garante labarik sira estuda nafatin maske iha interopsaun husi COVID-19.  

Kona-ba programa Mundial Hainan:
Programa Mundial Aihan mak organizasaun umanitaria bo’ot, salva moris iha tempu emerjensia sira, harii prosperidade no apoia sustentabilidade ba futuru ba ema sira rekupera husi konflitu, dezastre no impkatu husi mudansa klimátika. 

Kona-ba UNICEF:  
UNICEF servisu iha fatin balu mak difisil tebes, atu hakbesik ba labarik desfavoresida-liu sira. Iha país no territoriu liu 190, ami servisu ba labarik hotu, iha ne’ebe deit, atu hari’i mundu ida di’ak-liu ba ema hotu.

Ba informasaun detallu favor kontaktu:
David Orr, WFP, +39 340 246 6831, David.orr@wfp.org
Georgina Thompson, UNICEF, +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


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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