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COVID 19 Children left without caregivers at risk of hunger, poverty, abuse and exploitation - Save the Children

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Media Contact: Media@savechildren.org

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (July 21, 2021) – A new study published in the Lancet on children impacted by COVID-19, saying an estimated 1.1 million children have lost at least one parent or custodial grandparent, is a wake-up call that cannot be ignored, Save the Children said today.

Governments and organizations need to step up and protect these children, Save the Children said, to prevent them from falling victim to hunger, abuse, poverty or exploitation, or being put into institutional care.

"We cannot allow any more victims, even if indirect, of this pandemic,” said Janti Soeripto, Save the Children’s President & CEO. “If we do not protect this generation, they run the risk of being left behind. As children lose one or even two parents, families are often pushed further into poverty, which can mean children will drop out of school and work, to help with the family income. These children will not return to school, and will likely be trapped in a cycle of poverty.”

The impact of COVID-19 has already worsened the living conditions of children around the world, undermining decades of progress made to safeguard the most vulnerable, and severely affecting their future. Weak health systems and child protection systems have collapsed, and where many families have plunged into poverty, child malnutrition rates have increased as families have lost their sources of income and sometimes their livelihoods.

"Save the Children urges institutions and governments around the world to pay urgent attention to the situation of orphaned children who have lost parents and caregivers, and ensure they are cared for – for example through financial support for families who have lost one or even two caregivers. Years of working with impacted children have shown us that governments need to look at strengthening family based care systems. So children who have lost one or both parents can be kept safe in family settings, instead of being sent to an institution.”

“Without caregivers, children are particularly vulnerable,” Soeripto continued. “The pandemic undermined the education of hundreds of millions of children, and the loss of school days exposed girls, boys and adolescents to the risk of child labour, early marriage and pregnancy, and permanently dropping out of school.”

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.