Co-leading “Risk Communication and Community Engagement “(RCCE) efforts, UNICEF and partners provided transparent source of authorized information on COVID-19 prevention and access to health and social services, to more than 275 million individuals. Furthermore, a total of over 40 million people were actively engaged via innovative online platforms but also community-based approaches around COVID-19.
With significant disruption of access to health services in nine countries of the region in 2020, nearly 15 million children missed their regular immunizations schedule. However, concerted efforts of Governments and UNICEF allowed to return to pre-COVID-19 rates with nearly 12 million Reporting Period: 1 January – 31 December 2020 children vaccinated by the end of 2020 and about three million children be prioritized for the first months of 2021.
By mid-March 2020, almost all schools in the region were closed, interrupting education for approximately 110 million children, putting their learning and well-being at risk. An estimated 1.3 million children are still in jeopardy of not returning to education altogether. UNICEF was instrumental in supporting Ministries of Education by providing alternative solutions to keep learning ongoing, reaching over 9.5 million children with distance or home-based learning at the height of the pandemic.
The equivalent of 11 million full-time jobs were lost in the MENA region as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total of children living in monetary poor households to more than 60 million. In response to this new reality, more than 13 million households benefitted from new or additional social assistance measures provided by governments with UNICEF support.
Increased poverty, reduced social interactions and limited access to services, exacerbated pre-existing children vulnerabilities and gender-based violence (GBV). In Lebanon for example, 44 per cent of women and girls surveyed reported feeling less safe in their homes. To mitigate what is considered as a “Shadow Pandemic”, UNICEF provided community based mental health and psychosocial support to more than 600,000 children, parents and primary caregivers. Moreover, 1.30 million children and adults e had access to safe and accessible channels to report sexual exploitation and abuse.