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How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world's children

Photo copyright UNICEF/UN0367673

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevailed for a year.

The latest available data from UNICEF paints a devastating and distorted new normal for the world’s children. The number of children who are hungry, isolated, abused, anxious, living in poverty and forced into marriage has increased. At the same time, their access to education, socialization and essential services including health, nutrition and protection has decreased. It is a state where progress has gone backward across virtually every key measure of childhood according to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

How exactly has the COVID-19 pandemic affected children?

- As of March 2021, 13 percent of 71 million COVID-19 infections in 107 countries (62 per cent of the total global infections) with data by age are among children and adolescents under 20 years of age. - At least 1 in 7 children and young people has lived under stay-at-home policies for most of the last year, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation. - In developing countries, child poverty is expected to increase by around 15 per cent. An additional 140 million children in these countries are also already projected to be in households living below the poverty line. - As of November 2020, an additional 6 to 7 million children under age 5 may have suffered from wasting or acute malnutrition in 2020, resulting in almost 54 million wasted children, a 14 per cent rise that could translate into more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With a 40 per cent decline in nutrition services for children and women, many other nutrition outcomes can worsen. - On average 700 children under-five die every day from diseases caused by the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene.

- Schools for more than 168 million school children globally have been closed for almost a year. Two-thirds of countries with full or partial closures are in Latin America and the Caribbean. - At least 1 in 3 schoolchildren has been unable to access remote learning while their schools were closed. - Around 10 million additional child marriages may occur before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice. More must be done to protect this generation of children from becoming a lost generation UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF works for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.


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