COVID-19 is biggest threat to child progress in UNICEF's 75-year history
Dec 09, 2021
NEW YORK: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a new report on Thursday, said the COVID-19 pandemic is rolling back progress on key childhood challenges such as poverty, health and access to education.
This revelation, according to UNICEF, represents the biggest global crisis for children since the agency was founded 75 years ago.
The impact of the COVID-19 continues to deepen, the report warned and added that increasing poverty is entrenching inequality and threatening the rights of children like never before.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest threat to progress for children in our 75-year history," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
"While the number of children who are hungry, out of school, abused, living in poverty or forced into marriage is going up, the number of children with access to healthcare, vaccines, sufficient food and essential services is going down. In a year in which we should be looking forward, we are going backward."
COVID-19 has pushed a staggering 100 million more children into poverty: a 10 per cent increase since 2019. This corresponds to nearly two children every second since mid-March of last year, when the pandemic was declared, UN News reported.
UNICEF said even in a best-case scenario, recovery to pre-pandemic levels will take up to eight years.
Some 60 million children are now living in "monetary poor" households, and more than 23 million have missed out on essential vaccines, the highest number in more than a decade, according to the report.
Before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one billion children worldwide suffered at least one severe deprivation, such as lack of access to education, health, housing, nutrition, or sanitation and water. Unequal recovery is pushing the number higher, UN News reported.
The report details other areas where backsliding occurred, such as in education. At the peak of the pandemic, more than 1.6 billion students were shut out of school due to lockdowns. Schools were closed worldwide for almost 80 per cent of in-person instruction time during the first year of the crisis, the report added.