The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic could push up to 86 million more children into household poverty by the end of 2020 if urgent action is not taken, a new study released today by Save the Children and UNICEF has warned.
The joint study, published yesterday, showed that the increase of 15 per cent could result in 672 million children living in poor households by the end of this year, due to a rise in unemployment as a result of the pandemic.
The increase is expected to occur mainly in Europe and Central Asia, which could see up to a 44 per cent rise. Latin America and the Caribbean, meanwhile, could be hit by a 22 per cent increase.
Save the Children and UNICEF warned that the impact of the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic and related containment policies is two-fold. For the poorest families, lack of access to social care services or compensation further limits their ability to abide by lockdown and social distancing measures. This further increases their possible exposure to infection.
"The scale and depth of financial hardship among families threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore explained.
"The shocking poverty impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit children hard," added Save the Children International CEO Inger Ashing. "Children are highly vulnerable to even short periods of hunger and malnutrition, potentially affecting them for their whole life."
With immediate and decisive action, Ashing pointed out, the pandemic threat facing the poorest countries and some of the most vulnerable children can be prevented and contained."
The organisations called on governments to expand their social security systems and school feeding programmes rapidly in order to address and mitigate the impact of coronavirus on children in poor households.