COVID-19 Is Putting Millions Of Kids At Higher Risk. 5 Experts Share How We Can Help.

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryOneCounts, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children, to spark conversations around how in the fight against the coronavirus, everyone counts, and every voice, every action can make a difference. Join the campaign and publish your story here.

Children are the future.

And yet, millions around the world are losing their chance at a future because the global pandemic situation seems to have put a spanner on their dreams. Children from marginalised and vulnerable communities, children living on the streets and in slums, the children of migrant workers, the children belonging to displaced communities, have all been set back tremendously.

Is there hope, though? A way to salvage their futures and nurture their dreams?

Five experts took these tough questions head on during a Twitter chat hosted by YKA last weekend and shared five crucial lessons:

1. With Equal Care And Compassion, Displaced Children Can And Will Bounce Back

Speaking about the plight of children from displaced communities, Mr. Babar Baloch, Global Spokesperson – Africa, Asia and Pacific, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, shed light on the fact that COVID-19 has certainly made things worse. Children from these vulnerable communities were already struggling to reclaim a sense of normalcy, and efforts have been set back by the pandemic.

At such a time, he placed the most importance on treating children as children, regardless of nationalities, identities and backgrounds, and working towards their wellbeing. He placed particular importance on ensuring their access to schools, to build confidence.

What’s more, efforts are already underway on a global scale! With collective action and continued government support, we can overcome these challenges too.

2. Through Collective Action, We Can Achieve Happy Futures For Children Living On The Streets

Without legal identities children in street situations remain among the worst affected by the pandemic. Pragya Vats, Head of Campaigns and Prabhat Kumar, Deputy Director – Child Protection at Save the Children joined the conversation to shed light on the challenges and resolutions.

Government action, and actions from civil society and collective citizen action, however, as an essential part of rescue and rehabilitation can help children from vulnerable communities recover from these setbacks quickly.

So long as we don’t forget the life lessons this pandemic has taught us, children can be helped and positive, happy, successful futures can be built for them.

3. Building An Empathetic And Inclusive Society Can Give Wings To Many Little Dreams

Dia Mirza, actor, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, UNSG Advocate for SDGs and Artist Ambassador – Save the Children, added to the conversation by sharing examples of some of the most inspiring children she’s come across, whose courage and resilience moved her.

She underscored the importance of empathy in building a future for children from all communities, where needs are taken into account and opportunities available to all.

At the heart of it, she said, lies the fact that we need to look to each other as family and kin and help each other through this pandemic.

4. The Government Of India Has Issued Specific Guidelines To Ensure The Needs Of Children Are Met

Shri Kanoongo Priyank, Chairperson of the NCPCR shared how the needs and rescue of children, particularly those from street situations, is at the forefront of government efforts in tackling the pandemic. He did not deny that risks were higher for some children over others.

But government strategies have been adapted to meet these elevated challenges.

What’s more, State Governments are working to ensure that when schools reopen, safety measures are put in place for children.

This critical conversation was organised in partnership with Save the Children, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Twitter India and United Nations in India. During this conversation, young people on Twitter took to the platform and interacted at length with the panelists, asking their questions and adding to the conversation with their opinions and inputs. With such powerful responses, the chat reached over 5 million unique Twitter accounts. Check out key moments from the chat here.

More than anything, the experts and participants together proved that there is compassion within each one of us, and this compassion is what will ensure we’re able to build brighter, more inclusive futures for children in the future, post-pandemic.

Have a thought, solution or message of solidarity of support for children from vulnerable communities during this COVID-19 pandemic? Publish it today on Youth Ki Awaaz with #EveryOneCounts and your entry will be published in a book! Get started here!

#EveryOneCounts is a joint initiative between United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Save the Children and Youth Ki Awaaz to create conversations around how in the fight against the coronavirus, everyone counts, and every voice, every action can make a difference.

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