The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appealed for US$1.6 billion in support of its humanitarian response for children affected by the pandemic. The UN agency has increased the earlier $651.6 million requested in March as the costs for supplies, shipment and duty of care are increasing “dramatically”.
The specialised agency of the UN said that the hike in demand reflects the devastating socioeconomic consequences of the disease and rising needs of the families. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that the health crisis is quickly becoming a child rights crisis as schools are closed and parents are out of work, straining the needs.
“As we begin to reimagine what a post-COVID world would look like, these funds will help us respond to the crisis, recover from its aftermath, and protect children from its knock-on effects,” said the UN official.
UNICEF has received $215 million in support of its pandemic response so far with which it has shipped over 6.6 million gloves, 1.3 million surgical masks, 428,000 N95 respirators, 291,000 gowns among others in 52 countries. The agency said that it has reached nearly 80 million children with distance or home-based learning.
“We have seen what the pandemic is doing to countries with developed health systems and we are concerned about what it would do to countries with weaker systems and fewer available resources,” said Fore.
The UN agency warned against a significant increase in child mortality highlighting that the access to essential services has already been compromised for hundreds of millions of children. Underlining the psychological impact of movement restrictions, UNICEF said that school closures and subsequent isolation are likely to intensify already high levels of stress, especially for vulnerable children.
“Some 77 per cent of children under the age of 18 worldwide, or 1.8 billion, are living in one of the 132 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to COVID-19,” said UNICEF.
(Image: Twitter / @UNICEF)