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Millions More Face Child Labour, Early Marriage Because Of COVID-19

Millions more are at higher risk of child marriage and child labour over the coming year

  • The 1 billion children already exposed to violence could grow by 85 million
  • World Vision calls on world leaders to prioritise preventing this escalation of violence

Aftershocks – A Perfect Storm, released today by World Vision, reveals that up to 85 million more children could experience physical, sexual and emotional violence in the next three months as vital isolation measures force them to stay home. The international aid agency is calling on world leaders to urgently prioritise ending violence against children.

On average one billion children are estimated to experience violence each year, but the global COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and increasing the risk of unreported violence.

Apart from the threat of child abuse, World Vision also predicts an increase in child marriage and child labour as financial difficulties take a toll on struggling families.

"It has been recently estimated that there will be an additional 13 million child marriages over the next ten years due to COVID-19, adding to the 150 million already expected to occur in that time. Our experience shows that most of these marriages will occur in the years immediately following the crises, so we expect to see at least four million more girls married in the next two years" said World Vision International Global Leader for Advocacy, Dana Buzducea.

Aftershocks – A Perfect Storm reviews information from World Vision programmes, domestic violence protection reports from countries around the world, and surges in calls to child helplines. Recent studies of Official Development Assistance (ODA) data estimate that less than 0.6% of total global spending is allocated to ending violence against children.

Andrew Morley, World Vision International President and CEO, said “We know from bitter experience that times of crisis compound the risks of violence faced by the most vulnerable children. We saw this recently with Ebola, and we’re concerned that the coronavirus pandemic poses a new and grave global threat to children’s safety as quarantine measures isolate families, and economic and social pressures take their toll.

World Vision is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in every country where we work, focused on supporting the world’s most vulnerable. The ambitious response plan will mobilise 37,000 staff, 400,000 faith leaders and 220,000 community health workers. World Vision has already supported more than 390,000 children with child protection programming and provided more than 684,000 children, parents, and caregivers with education support or training since the pandemic was first declared.

Buzducea urges: “It is vital that world leaders take responsibility for the protection of all children against violence and abuse. World Vision and other child focussed organisations will continue to prioritise the protection of the world’s most vulnerable children, however we cannot do this alone. Governments around the world who are focussed on COVID reduction and economic impacts must also prioritise these children and ensure that they are not forgotten. If they do not, the aftershocks caused by increased violence and abuse will be felt by generations to come.”

You can read World Vision’s Aftershocks II Report here: https://www.wvi.org/publications/report/coronavirus-health-crisis/covid-19-aftershocks-perfect-storm

For further information or to organise an interview please contact gabriel.thomas@worldvision.org.nz

021360098

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