On Thursday, April 16 the United Nations warned that hundreds of thousands of children could die as a result of the depressed economy caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) outbreak this year alone. Furthermore, many could fall into extreme poverty.
According to the press statement released by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “The poorest and most vulnerable members of society are being hardest hit, both by the pandemic and the response.” While he expressed gratitude that children thus far appear to be “largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease, […] their lives are being totally upended.”
Guterres listed the ways that the pandemic and outcome could impact children, ranging from education and food to safety.
While some schools have offered distant learning, mostly through online classes, this is not available to all. Countries that have costly internet services, as well as schools within the United States, do not all offer such online learning options, leaving some children at a significant disadvantage. This rings true from a recent video released by Bill Gates, stating that “Different school districts have decided some don’t do online learning because it would be unjust in terms of the kids who don’t have access. And so that’s really a dilemma.”
The statement also claimed that 310 million schoolchildren are reliant on school for a regular source of daily nutrition. These children are also “victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse,” something which has risen since lockdown regulations have been announced.
With unemployment climbing at a rapid rate within the US, a reduced or no income will mean families have to cut back on expenditures such as food, which will be especially difficult for children, expecting and new mothers. This is while food prices have increased significantly over the last few months. As of now, US Congress has not announced any rent freeze programs.
Guterres said in the statement that all governments and parents, as well as companies, have a “…special responsibility to protect the vulnerable.” He ended with the words: “Let us protect our children and safeguard their well-being.”
Gates has also reportedly backed a coronavirus test that people can conduct on their own at home.