Report on The Pandemic: “Disastrous” Impact on Children’s Rights Worldwide
The coronavirus pandemic will have a “disastrous” impact on children’s rights worldwide, making them more vulnerable to forced labour and underage marriage, a rights group has said, as the World Health Organization warned of an “immediate second peak” in cases if restrictions were lifted too soon.
Millions of children would fall into extreme poverty because of the outbreak, which has left governments short of money for health and education for the young, Dutch NGO KidsRights said.
“This crisis turns back the clock on years of progress made on the wellbeing of children,” said founder and chairman Marc Dullaert as it launched its annual survey. “Therefore, a strong focus for children’s rights is needed more than ever.”
The suspension of vaccination campaigns for children also increased the risk of infant mortality, while hundreds of millions of children who normally relied on school meals were being left with no reliable source of daily nutrition.
The annual KidsRights rankings used UN data to measure how countries measure up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This year’s survey – which does not take into account the pandemic – put Iceland, Switzerland and Finland top, with Chad, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone the worst-performing countries.
The NGO’s warning came as the WHO emergencies head, Dr Mike Ryan, spoke of a potential second wave of infections at any time, especially if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.
He said: “We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”
Calls for vigilance were echoed as restrictions eased across Europe, Japan lifted its state of emergency, and people in the US marked the start of summer with Memorial Day weekend getaways.
“If we lower our guard, the infection will spread very rapidly ... we need to be vigilant,” Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said. He urged people to adopt a “new lifestyle” and continue to avoid the “three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.
With the US death toll standing at more than 98,000, many headed en masse to beaches and parks over the weekend. Many were not wearing masks or following distancing rules – and images of packed pools and streets triggered fears of a new flare-up of the virus that has infected nearly 5.5 million worldwide and killed more than 346,000 according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.
Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend. “We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s This Week.
In hard-hit Spain, Madrid and Barcelona cautiously emerged from one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with parks and cafe terraces open for the first time in more than two months.The Spanish government also announced that it would scrap quarantine for foreign arrivals from 1 July, in the hope of helping the battered tourism sector.
Slowing infection rates in Greece allowed restaurants to resume business a week ahead of schedule – but only for outdoor service.
However, in Sweden, which has gained international attention for not enforcing stay-at-home measures, the Covid-19 death toll passed 4,000, a much higher figure than its neighbours.
In the UK, Boris Johnson’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, refused to resign or apologise for breaking lockdown rules, saying: “I don’t regret what I did … reasonable people might disagree.” The prime minister gave Cummings his full backing but did “regret the confusion the anger and the pain that people feel … as a country that has been going through tremendous difficulties and sufferings”. The police and crime commissioner for Durham, the area Cummings visited, has formally asked police to launch an investigation.
Hopes that anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine – the drug Donald Trump said he was taking as a precaution – could be used as a potential treatment for the virus have taken a hit after the WHO halted clinical trials “while the safety is reviewed”. Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the decision was taken in light of a paper published last week that showed people taking the drug were at higher risk of death and heart problems.
In other global developments:
In Mexico, doubts about the accuracy of the official Covid-19 death toll are growing after Mexico City recorded more than 8,000 more deaths so far this year than the four-year average. The country’s official death toll is 7,633, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.
Germany has given Lufthansa a €9bn (.8bn) bailout in a deal that gives Berlin a veto in the event of a hostile bid for the airline.The largest German corporate rescue since the coronavirus crisis struck will see the government get a 20% stake, which could rise to 25% plus one share in the event of a takeover attempt, as it seeks to protect thousands of jobs.
Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7% this year, which would be the worst reading since independence, with the government saying on Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic had throttled the key export sector.
In Brazil, embattled president Jair Bolsonaro has continued to come under further pressure after the Trump-imposed travel ban on non-US citizens coming from the South American country, was brought forward by two days, to start at midnight Washington time on Tuesday. It came as Brazil recorded a daily death toll higher than the US for the first time (807 versus 620).
In the US, rodents deprived for months of restaurant waste and street garbage are displaying “unusual and aggressive” behaviour, with reports of cannibalism and infanticide, health officials have warned.
In Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales, where children went back to school full time on Monday, two schools reported new coronavirus cases and closed./theguardian.com
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