The COVID-19 pandemic has been a scary, confusing time for us all. It’s been especially difficult for families and children, who have had to adjust schooling, working from home, child care and so much more. For children who were already in vulnerable situations – such as refugees, those in conflict zones, or those facing severe poverty – this virus threatens to disrupt their lives even more.
Many of these families live in close quarters, where it is near impossible to social distance. Children who have already experienced severe trauma are at risk of losing parents, guardians or loved ones to the virus, or falling ill themselves. Additionally, more than 1 billion children are out of school, routine immunization services are being disrupted and many children are at risk of increased malnutrition.
Despite the severity of the situation, many of these communities are working in partnership with organizations such as Save the Children to alleviate some of the risks and concerns. They have set up sanitation stations, provide masks, run education and awareness programs and more. But there is still plenty left to do.
Fortunately, there is growing bipartisan support in Congress to provide robust funding for international relief programs as part of the next coronavirus response package. That funding could make a world of difference for kids around the world.
It’s difficult to put faces to the crisis, so here are a few examples of children and communities who are affected by, and responding to, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaif Abdullah Muhammad (right) is Coordinator for Emergency Child Protection Programs in Yemen. He works with children affected by various crises and traumas. In the wake of COVID-19, he has been teaching children proper handwashing and hygiene techniques.
Buba* is a 12-year-old boy living in northeastern Nigeria. He has been out of school for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and does not have access to remote learning. He misses school and his classmates. Buba wants to resume his schooling so he can pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
Poor living conditions in the Rohingya refugee camps put many children at a higher risk during the COVID-19 outbreak. The camps are densely populated, facilities are shared and social distancing and self-isolation are extremely challenging – if not impossible. Save the Children and community leaders are working to strengthen health systems and address these concerns.
Many refugees fled from conflict along the border of the Oromia and Afar regions. They now live at a camp for displaced people. In this image, families practice social distancing as they wait for shelter kits from Save the Children. Again, these close conditions make safe practices difficult, and increase the likelihood for the virus to spread.
Salam* is a 10-year-old girl who fled to Syria with her family when shelling hit their community in 2018. Her family has been reading a lot about the coronavirus. They worry that camp will not be able to handle an outbreak. In this image, she is protecting her stuffed animal with gloves and a mask.
This virus has been devastating for children around the world. But if Congress votes to approve robust funding for international relief efforts, we can help protect those children and their families.
These children, and their futures, matter. So let’s use our voices today and urge Congress to provide robust funding for international relief programs!
*name changed to protect their identity