UN report: Pandemic turning into a 'child-rights crisis'

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses his statement, during the opening of the High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses his statement, during the opening of the High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

TANZANIA – Children have so far largely escaped the most severe symptoms of COVID-19 but the social and economic impact “is potentially catastrophic for millions of children,” according to a U.N. report launched Thursday.

It said COVID-19 is turning into “a broader child-rights crisis.”

“All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are affected,” it said. “However, some children are destined to bear the greatest costs.”

Those badly hit will be children living in slums, refugee and displacement camps, conflict zones, institutions and detention centers and youngsters with disabilities, the report said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a video statement launching the report that the coronavirus pandemic is putting many of the world’s children “in jeopardy” and urged families everywhere and leaders at all levels to “protect our children.”

The U.N. chief said the lives of children “are being totally upended” by COVID-19.

He pointed to almost all students out of school, family stress levels rising as communities face lock-downs, and reduced household income expected to force poor families to cut back on essential health and food expenditures, “particularly affecting children.”

Guterres said the global recession that is gathering pace as a result of the pandemic and the measures being taken to mitigate it could lead to “hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020.”