The Unicef has appealed for $1.6 billion to support its humanitarian aid for children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, up from $651.6 million requested in March.
"This increase reflects the devastating socioeconomic consequences of the disease and families' rising needs. As the outbreak enters its fifth month, the costs for supplies, shipment and duty of care are increasing dramatically," the UN body said on Monday. "The pandemic is a health crisis which is quickly becoming a child rights crisis," said Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
Funds to respond to the crisis
"Schools are closed, parents are out of work and families are under growing strain. 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."
Access to essential services like health care and routine immunization has already been compromised for hundreds of millions of children, which could lead to a significant increase in child mortality. Meanwhile, the mental health and psychosocial impact of restricted movement, school closures and subsequent isolation are likely to intensify already high levels of stress, especially for vulnerable children.
Increasing exposure to xenophobia and discrimination
According to a Unicef analysis, some 77 percent of children under the age of 18, or 1.8 billion, were living in the 132 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to the pandemic. Risk factors for violence, abuse and neglect were also on the rise for children living under restricted movement and socio-economic decline. Girls and women were at an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
In many cases, refugee, migrant and internally displaced children, as well as returnees, are experiencing reduced access to services and protection and increasing exposure to xenophobia and discrimination.
"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. Unicef has so far received $215 million in support of its response to the pandemic.