19m displaced children vulnerable to coronavirus, says UNICEF
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) yesterday warned that the estimated 19 million children internally displaced by conflicts in 2019 were among world’s most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The warning followed the release of a report, ‘Lost at Home’, which reviewed the risks and challenges facing internally displaced kids as well the need to protect them.
In the insurgency-ravaged North-East geo-political zone, some 1.9 million people had been displaced from their homes, 60 per cent of them being children, with one in every four under the age of five.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said the pandemic was making “a critical situation for displaced children and families around the world even worse as they often live in overcrowded camps or informal settlements, where access to basic hygiene and health services is limited, and where physical distancing is not possible.”
He noted that “this is true in Nigeria’s North East, where conditions pose a particular challenge to containing the possible spread of diseases like COVID-19.”
Hawkins lamented that thousands of children in the region were living in the shadow of conflict – and now in the increasingly challenging shadow of a global pandemic – and it’s potential socio-economic after.
The UNICEF official added: “When a new crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic emerges, displaced children are especially vulnerable and the gaps in our ability to keep them safe are even starker. We must urgently work together – all of us, government and humanitarian partners – to keep them safe, healthy, learning and protected.”
The document submitted that these unfortunate children around the world often lack access to basic services, and are at risk of exposure to violence, exploitation, abuse and trafficking.