The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation for vulnerable children globally as more of them lose their parents and remain at risk of being placed under unsuitable alternative care, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.
“As with all crises and health pandemics, the most vulnerable children are at increased risk of losing parental care – due to death, severe illness or financial hardship,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“While it’s too early to estimate the number of children orphaned or abandoned as a result of the pandemic, a spike in deaths in some countries means many children already vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 face further emotional distress and protection concerns,” she added.
Fore’s statement comes a little over a week since the COCID-19 death toll surpassed the 4 million mark, with more deaths reported across the world daily.
She urged governments to provide families with the emotional, practical and financial support they need, while also ensuring the creation of a suitable system whereby children deprived of parental care can be looked after by extended family members and not placed in unsuitable alternative care.
“As COVID-19 continues to devastate families and communities, we must protect every child’s right to live and grow up in an environment that supports their physical, psychological, social and emotional development,” Fore noted.
By Monday, the number of virus-related deaths globally had topped the 4.09 million mark from 190.53 million infections, according to the latest data by the Johns Hopkins University.
Governments across the world have rolled out mass vaccination campaigns in efforts to curb further spread of the virus.
In addition, some containment measures remain in place in most parts of the world, including the mandatory wearing of face coverings, nighttime curfews, lockdowns, and bans on large public gatherings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is targeting to vaccinate at least 70 percent of every country’s population is by mid next year. In the meantime, the health agency is urging countries to ensure they commit to tailor-made responses to the pandemic ad unite to defeat the virus.