More than three years after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 pandemic, the consequences continue to be evident and the child population is among the most affected. Unicef estimates indicate that, as a result of the health crisis, an additional 16 million minors are in poverty in Latin America, which means a 20-year setback in the indicators of this condition.
At least 87 million children and adolescents live in poverty in Latin America and the CaribbeanCurrently, according to Unicef.
The region reaches this figure after Covid-19, declared a pandemic by the WHO in March 2020, added around 16 million minors to these circumstances, said Mónica Rubio, regional social policy adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), in an interview with Efe.
The restrictions on the economy as measures to avoid contagion in the midst of the health crisis caused greater purchasing difficulties in thousands of households, which has led to a 20-year setback in poverty indicators, the expert stressed.
Likewise, Rubio explains that the limitations generated a “fragmentation” in access to social protection programs, including those directed against unemployment and those that guarantee health services, which worsened the situation in the region.
In addition, access to education has been affected. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlights that 159 million children, adolescents and young people in Latin America have been harmed due to school closures which represents more than 95 percent of the students enrolled in the region.
Another of the serious consequences for children, in the context of the pandemic, is reflected in mental health. According to the global survey by the NGO Save the Children, 83% of families reported an increase in negative feelings in children after isolation measures.
To counter figures like these, it is necessary to end poverty in this population. Rubio stressed that “ending child poverty is a public policy decision that brings productivity and future growth”, after comparing the financing of States such as Finland, in programs for the welfare of minors, with those registered in Latin America.
However, the economic consequences of the pandemic do not escape the child population in Europe either.
200,000 more children fell into poverty in the European Union
The report “Securing children’s future: how COVID-19, cost of living and climate shocks affect children in poverty and what governments in Europe need to do”, Carried out by the NGO Save the Children and published on March 6, it highlights that despite the fact that the Old Continent is a region with a better purchasing power, compared to Latin America, it is not exempt from the consequences of Covid-19.
The study, which compared different rates of child poverty in 14 countries of the European Union (EU), indicates that, at the end of 2021, 200,000 more children fell into poverty, bringing the total number to 19.6 million in the bloc of 27 countries.
The panorama is registered as a result of the pandemic, but also of the climate crisis and the high costs of living, after the war ordered by Russia in Ukraine, the largest conflict on European soil since World War II, and which involves two of the largest producers of grains and cereals on the planet.
“The conflict in Ukraine and the consequent increase in the cost of living has brought unbearable challenges to the lives of millions of families, especially those low- and middle-income households that have already suffered during the pandemic. The price of basic foods such as milk, cereals and oil has skyrocketed, forcing families to skip meals and ration food,” the organization explains.
Among the nations evaluated, Spain and Romania had the highest score, with 33.4% and 41.5%, respectively, of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Likewise, the study found that those of migrant origin, refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented and unaccompanied are among the most affected.
In Italy, for example, 32.4% of immigrants live in poverty, compared to 7.2% of Italian citizens, who are in the same situation.
“No child should have to go to school on an empty stomach, worry about their parents’ jobs, or live in a cold home. However, the impact of Europe’s many crises means that eating or heating up is no longer an option for many families and deprives children of the essentials they need for their development and well-being,” said Ylva Sperling, Director of Save the Children Europe.
The situation does not escape even the main economy of the European territory. “There are 19.6 million children in the EU living in poverty, and more than two million of them live in Germany. With one in five children in poverty across the country, there can be no more excuses: the German government must finally deliver on its promises to tackle child poverty,” he said. Eric Großhaus from Save the Children Germany.
However, the NGO indicates that the EU is undergoing a unique political push for the protection of children’s rights, which could improve the situation.
With EFE and Save the Children