Coronavirus: Vulnerable children in poverty to pay the highest price

Children may be at lower direct risk from the coronavirus, but the “tsunami” of economic and developmental damage it will cause threatens to be most deadly for vulnerable kids, says Christian child development charity Compassion UK as it launches its COVID-19 Emergency Appeal.

The appeal will help buffer the poorest children and their families from the devastation caused by the disease, including the two million children that attend Compassion’s local church-based projects in 25 countries around the world. The situation is dire, as many families have lost their regular income and are struggling to keep food on the table as supplies are scarce. Basic hygiene and safety are often seen as unrealistic luxuries.

Sidney Muisyo, Compassion Head of Global Programme says:

“At a time when the developed nations of the world, like the UK, are facing significant challenges themselves, I cannot over-emphasise the urgent need to support developing nations and humanitarian organisations – first to weather this crisis, and then to rebuild resiliency. As always with most crises, I fear that vulnerable children are yet again going to pay the highest price.”

These children – and their families – are made more vulnerable living in developing nations that already face hardship and lack the necessary healthcare systems and resources to ward off the double threat of the pandemic and starvation. The United Nations (UN) claims the coronavirus pandemic places an estimated 265 million lives at risk of starvation and that poverty is expected to leap by a half a billion people.

Sidney continues:

“For millions of people in developing nations, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a tsunami impact, potentially undoing over a decade’s worth of developmental and humanitarian efforts in regions of the world that already contend with major challenges.

“Even in the best of times, these countries face issues like economic crises, inequality gaps between the few rich and majority poor, child exploitation and abuse, health challenges (such as malaria and compromised healthcare systems), underfunded education systems and food insecurity. It’s a perfect storm.”

Compassion works through the local Church, with 8000 partners across Africa, Asia and Latin America, who already support the most vulnerable children in their local communities every day. Since COVID-19 hit, the charity’s focus is still on caring for those children, but when survival is on the line, that means providing additional support to the community around them. During crisis and disaster situations, helping communities and caregivers is often the most critical and immediate way to help children and bring hope to their situation.

Richmond Wandera, a Compassion UK trustee who is also a former sponsored child and now one of the local church partners in Uganda, says,

“The people who are suffering the most are the poorest of the poor and the children who are at home without food.”

That’s why the Compassion UK COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is all about empowering local church partners to extend their care further in those communities hardest hit and in urgent need of hygiene, food and housing security. This includes children and families not currently registered in the Compassion programme. Compassion UK is encouraging supporters and the public

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