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The ECPC Global Call to Action in Reponse to COVID-19 for Children in Fragile and Conflict-affected Settings
Click above to read the interactive and sharable ECPC Global Call to Action brochure.
ECPC Global Call to Action in response to COVID-19 for children in fragile and conflict affected settings: The promise of early childhood development
“The ECPC strongly supports the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal to protect the rights of children and safeguard their well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
WHO WE ARE
“We stand in solidarity and collaborate with the United Nations Secretary-General, UNICEF, WHO and all other United Nations agencies, as well as with governments, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, academia, early childhood networks and civil society as a whole in the response to the global pandemis humanitarian crisis, to mitigate its impact on families and younr children living in situations of conflict, military occupation, and displacement.”
IMPACT ON THE MOST VULNERABLE CHILDREN
The COVID-19 outbreak and containment measures exacerbate existing crises and further violate vulnerable children’s rights. The pandemic severely affects young children’s physical and mental health, their social and emotional development, safety, economic security, access to education, play, recreational activities and more (United Nations, 2020).
CHILDREN LIVING IN FRAGILE AND CONFLICT AFFECTED SETTINGS
CHILDREN ON THE MOVE
In camps or in overcrowded detention centres, the uprooted often live in deeply unsafe and highly stressful environments with no possibility of social distancing (CRC COVID-19 Statement, 2020). This pandemic also poses greater challenges for migrant and displaced families and children as they are faced with higher rates of deportation and mass expulsions; these practices threaten children’s rights and are a risk to public health.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE TEACH US ON THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19?
BUILDING A FUTURE FIT FOR THE WORLD’S CHILDREN
• Maintain and further invest in quality programmes and services for families and their young children that live in situations of conflict, military occupation (Watchlist, 2020) and displacement during the COVID-19 response efforts (Yoshikawa et al., 2020).
• Ensure that essential child protection services are recognised as lifesaving and continue to be provided and made accessible to all children even during lockdowns, quarantines and other types of restrictions.
• Prioritise protection of young children, who in this time of crisis are highly susceptible to neglect, abuse, violence, exploitation, and stigma as their parents/caregivers experience increased instability and stress, which may result in long-term and irreversible negative consequences.
• Use mass media – radio, television and social media – to promote psychosocial support, cognitive development, nutrition and physical activity. Ensure existing online resources are accessible and address pre-existing inequalities in fragile and conflict affected settings. Ensure children’s experiences are safe and positive during the COVID-19 pandemic (UNICEF, 2020).
• Invest in new research to understand the impact of COVID-19 on children and their families:
(i) the adverse impact of the pandemic on parents/caregivers and their ability to provide nurturing care for their children;
(ii) the social-emotional impact of the virus and (the measures to control it) on children;
(iii) the role children play as vectors of the infection; and
(iv) the underlying biology and optimal treatment for the newly identified PMI syndrome that is associated with COVID-19. A more evidence-based understanding of these issues will help governments in their decision making about opening or closing early childhood development (ECD) centres and schools at various stages of the pandemic.
• Ensure an inclusive approach for all children and their families living in situations of conflict, military occupation and fragility, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, who have a right to the highest attainable standard of health (OHCHR, 2008). Those children should be entitled to protection for themselves and their families, including having access to testing and early detection for COVID-19, and the means to physically distance, self-isolate and take other appropriate physical and mental health measures (IASC, 2020).
• Uphold the rights of vulnerable children and their families as we emerge from this pandemic into recovery. It is vital to have ECD programmes that are multileveled, benefiting the child and parents/caregivers, the community, and institutions at national, regional and local levels. Programmes should be safe, protective, inclusive, accessible and most importantly, culturally sensitive, to allow children and their families the space they need to be the driving force for social change.
• Protect women’s and girl’s rights, without discrimination, and support community-based action through gender-based analysis to favour their empowerment and social inclusion.
• Build on the extensive body of international research on the power of ECD to promote peace and sustainable development.
• Invest in strengthening systems (e.g. through financial resources, capacity building, personnel training) with a holistic and whole-of-government (multi-ministry) approach.
Five-point Global Call to Action
- Reaffirm commitment to human rights and the rights of children that are being undermined during the global pandemic crisis.
- Prioritise investment in the survival, development and protection of children living in situations of conflict, military occupation, and displacement.
- Protect and prioritise investments in Early Childhood Development programmes and services in the global pandemic response and recovery efforts.
- Ensure that gender equality, inclusion and empowerment of children, parents/caregivers, families and communities be at the centre of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
- Implement more effective policies and practices in all countries, ensuring that early childhood programmes and services are essential in promoting The Culture of Peace (UN Resolution /RES/74/21) and in sustaining peace.
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