Coronavirus is likely to hit children in the worst possible way in South Asian countries. More than 10 million children in India and neighboring countries are likely to fall under the poverty line as a prolonged effect of the pandemic.
The United Nation also estimated that coronavirus might take the lives of more than 8 lakh children. A large bulk of these deaths are to occur in India and Pakistan, however other countries like Bangladesh and Afghanistan could also see significant casualty rates. Coronavirus has undone decades of hardships in medical, educational, and economical pathways and could be responsible for crushing their dreams and hopes.
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With more than 430 million students relying on distance learning facilities, the facilities don’t seem to keep up with their dreams. This is because many households don’t have regular electricity, let alone access to good internet services. This worst hits rural areas where education has failed to fill the gap between classroom education and remote learning.
The devastating impact can be seen especially on the children of migrant workers heading back home.“The journey for these children was arduous enough, but many of them have continued to suffer abuse, uncertainty, stigma, and discrimination even after they reached home,” said Unicef India representative, Yasmin Haque.
Not just in India, Pakistan’s major campaign of immunizing children that was responsible for eradicating Polio had to be stopped as a coronavirus measure. This goes for Afganistan as well.
Malnutrition is also a factor that cannot be ignored. According to UNICEF, 600,000 children could die out of hunger. In India, school, and Anganwadi (pre-school) centers who used to close this gap are no longer functioning.
Dr. Yasmin Ali further explained the need for shock-absorbent social protection schemes that would make accessing healthcare, schooling, nutrition, and other essential services, especially for these vulnerable families. Hunger is still a distress for many rather than coronavirus.