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COVID-19 worst crisis for children in UNICEF’s 75-year history: Report

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COVID-19 is the worst crisis the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) has seen in its 75 years history, the agency said in a report released Thursday.

UNICEF said COVID-19 was changing decades of progress on key childhood challenges including poverty, access to education, nutrition and mental well-being.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said the impact of COVID-19 continues to deepen, increasing poverty, inequality and threatening the rights of children.

“While the number of children who are hungry, 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 backward,” Ms Fore said.

The report said 100 million additional children were estimated to now be living in multidimensional poverty because of the pandemic, a 10 per cent increase since 2019.

In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines, an increase of nearly four million from 2019 and the highest number in 11 years, the report said.

Ms Fore said in an era of a global pandemic, growing conflicts, and worsening climate change, never has a child-first approach been more critical than today.

“We are at a crossroads, as we work with governments, donors and other organisations to begin charting our collective path for the next 75 years.

“We must keep children first in line for investment and last in line for cuts. The promise of our future is set in the priorities we make in our present.”

(dpa/NAN)

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