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Joining Forces Coalition: Risks to children rise during the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda

June 3rd, 2020

The Joining Forces Coalition, a partnership of six of the world’s leading child rights organisations, has shared a new briefing paper on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in Uganda. Although children are not considered most at risk of contracting COVID-19, they are among the most vulnerable to the ‘secondary’ social and economic impacts. These impacts could affect children for the rest of their lives, state the Joining Forces.

School children in Uganda before the COVID-19 outbreak

Protection risks for children

In Uganda the Government acted quickly to put in place ‘lockdown’ measures to mitigate the spread of the outbreak. These have had commendable impact, but they also exacerbate other risks to children which need to be addressed.

From violence and sexual abuse, to child labour and child marriage, the Joining Forces are seeing a significant increase in protection risks for children, adolescents and youth during the COVID-19 outbreak so far. And the Joining Forces expect these to worsen as the situation goes on.

Outlining the situation children face

These risks are outlined in a new briefing paper produced by the Joining Forces Coalition – an alliance of six of the world’s leading child rights organisations: ChildFund, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, Terre des Hommes and World Vision.

The paper outlines the situation facing many children across Uganda.
This situation can be summarised into four main issues:

  1. Children have less access to support and services
  2. A rise in poverty is pushing children into danger
  3. An increase in violence, abuse and stress
  4. Many children don’t have the information they need

The way forward

Protecting children at this time is not just about protecting them from the virus, but also protecting them from violence, abuse and exploitation. Together the Joining Forces are calling on the Government, international donors and other key actors in the response to make child protection a priority.

They can do this by

  • ensuring child protection and mental health activities are adequately funded and incorporated into all response plans, and acknowledging that these activities are essential and lifesaving
  • disseminating child-friendly information through creative materials
  • taking children's views and opinions into account
  • enforcing laws and making sure that all cases of violence against children and domestic violence are prosecuted
  • strengthening child protection structures and reporting systems, for example by investing in the national child helpline
  • expanding social protection to make sure that vulnerable children have food and support
Download the briefing paper: Keeping children safe in Uganda’s COVID-19 response
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