By: Eric Zuehlke, Head of Editorial, Division of Global Communication and Advocacy, UNICEF and Martha Mackenzie, Global Humanitarian Advocacy Lead, UNICEF
Today is UNICEF’s birthday, marking 75 years of delivering critical services and creating safer and healthier environments for children and families around the world. UNICEF’s impact has been far and wide during the global COVID-19 pandemic as the organization has worked to accelerate vaccination efforts, support children impacted by the pandemic, and raise critical awareness about mental health at a time when depression and anxiety are increasing at alarming rates.
Over the past 75 years, UNICEF has made great strides toward helping all children realize their right to health, education, and protection. But now, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening UNICEF’s hard-fought gains for children around the world. In fact, the pandemic is the biggest crisis for children in UNICEF’s history.
In a new report, UNICEF outlines the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on children, and what the road looks like in order to respond, recover, and reimagine the future for children everywhere. While great challenges lie ahead, UNICEF shares four calls to action to respond to and recover from COVID-19:
1. Invest in social protection, human capital, and spending for an inclusive and resilient recovery:
• Ensure an inclusive recovery for every child.
• Invest in the untapped potential of young migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people.
Nur Zannat, 6, holds a paper folding fan she crafted in a UNICEF-supported learning centre in Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo credit: UNICEF.
2. End the pandemic and reverse the alarming rollback in child health and nutrition, including through leveraging UNICEF’s vital role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution:
• Ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
• Protect children from deadly but treatable diseases.
• Reverse the child nutrition crisis.
3. Build back stronger by ensuring quality education, protection, and good mental health for every child:
• Resume in-person learning and improve quality education for every child.
• Invest in the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Students attending class in Turgani High School in Faizabad, the largest city of Badakhshan, a northern province of Afghanistan. Photo credit: UNICEF
4. Build resilience to better prevent, respond to, and protect children from crises, including new approaches to end famines, protect children from climate change, and reimagine disaster spending:
• Consign famine and food insecurity to history.
• Take urgent action to protect children from climate change and slow the devastating rise in global temperatures.
• Reimagine disaster spending.
• Redouble efforts to protect children in war.
Download the full report here, and learn more about how UNICEF is supporting the largest vaccination operation in history.
About the Authors
Head of Editorial, Division of Global Communication and Advocacy, UNICEF
Global Humanitarian Advocacy Lead, UNICEF