The coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown measures have pushed 150 million more children into poverty, according to an analysis published by UNICEF and Save the Children on Thursday.
Since the start of the outbreak, there has been a 15% increase in the number of children living in deprivation in low and middle-income nations, taking the total number to around 1.2 billion, the organizations said.
“COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed to prevent its spread have pushed millions of children deeper into poverty,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
The report emphasized that child poverty should not be thought of just in monetary terms. In fact, child poverty has many other aspects. The report said some important indicators of monetary poverty, such as household income, provide only a partial representation of the plight of children living in poverty. In order to fully understand the extent of child poverty, it is necessary to directly analyze all possible deprivation.
The report notes that the world's poorest children are getting poorer and warns that the situation will likely deteriorate further in the coming months.
"Families on the cusp of escaping poverty have been pulled back in, while others are experiencing levels of deprivation they have never seen before," Fore said in a press release. "Most concerningly, we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than its end."
The agencies called on governments to rapidly expand social protection systems, access to health care and remote learning opportunities.
"Children who lose out on education are more likely to be forced into child labor or early marriage and be trapped in a cycle of poverty for years to come," Save the Children CEO Inger Ashing said.
According to the report, many factors, such as social protection, inclusive fiscal policies, investment in social services and employment and labor market interventions to support families are essential to lift children out of poverty and play a significant role in preventing further destruction. Access to quality health care, providing children with the tools and technologies necessary for continuing education remotely and investing in family-friendly policies such as paid leave and child care are indispensable elements, the report said.
“This pandemic has already caused the biggest global education emergency in history, and the increase in poverty will make it very hard for the most vulnerable children and their families to make up for the loss,” Ashing said. “We cannot afford to let a whole generation of children become victims of this pandemic. National governments and the international community must step up to soften the blow.” The analysis looked at data from more than 70 countries on whether children are deprived of education, medicine, housing, food, sanitation and water.
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