The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected children’s rights worldwide, with young people risking a generational catastrophe if governments do not act, a rights group said in an annual survey.
Millions of children have missed out on education because of the virus restrictions while there will be a long term impact in terms of their physical and mental health, Dutch NGO KidsRights said as it launched its annual ranking.
“Apart from patients of the Coronavirus, children have been hardest hit, not directly by the virus itself, but fundamentally failed through the deferred actions of governments around the world, despite the signals, which will lead to serious, long-term repercussions for the health of future generations,” the KidsRights Foundation founder and Chairman Marc Dullaert said.
According to the report, schools for more than 168 million children have been closed for almost a full year.
Fewer than half the population in 71 countries have access to the Internet, and this drops below 25% in African and South Asian countries. At least one in three schoolchildren has been unable to access remote learning while their schools were closed.
The survey ranks Iceland, Switzerland and Finland as best for children’s rights and Chad, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone as the worst, out of a total of 182 countries.
The report also reflects an astonishing increase in domestic violence and abuse during the lockdowns, with children as victims. Evidence from school closures already suggests an increase in early marriage and sexual violence in some countries. The NGO Plan International suggests an additional 13 million child marriages are likely to occur between 2020 and 2030.
An additional 142 million kids fell into material poverty and lack access to social protection, and a report by UNICEF and the International Labour Organization states that every one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percentage point increase in child labour.
The State of Palestine is included in this year’s KidsRights Index for the first time. The country’s overall position is 104, with a relatively high ranking of 11 in the Domain of Health, where Palestine has done well on various accounts: 99% of the children are immunized and ‘only’ 1.4% of children remain underweight. But the Committee also noted the persistent discrimination against children from Bedouin communities and against girls.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 3.7 million lives and infected at least 172 million people around the world.