The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has declared that the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made over 1.6 billion children stay out of school.
This was included in a report marking the agency’s 75th anniversary, which pointed out that schools were shut down worldwide for almost 80 per cent of the in-person instruction during the first year of the pandemic.
The agency in the report described the pandemic as one of its biggest crises since its inception.
In the report titled, “COVID-19: Biggest global crisis for children in our 75-year history”; UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said, “throughout our history, UNICEF has helped to shape healthier and safer environments for children across the globe, with great results for millions”.
“These gains are now at risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest threat to progress for children in our 75-year history”.
“While the number of hungry children, out of school, abused, living in poverty or forced into marriage is going up, the number of children with access to health care, vaccines, sufficient food, and essential services is going down. In a year in which we should be looking forward, we are going backwards”.
The UNICEF report also noted that mental health conditions have affected more than 13 per cent of adolescents aged 10–19 worldwide, adding that by October 2020, the pandemic had disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries worldwide.
UNICEF therefore, called for investment in social protection, ensuring quality education for every child, children’s protection from crises, and an end to the pandemic.