AMMAN (Reuters) – Millions of children in the Middle East will become poorer as their caregivers lose jobs from lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus across the region, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF said children were nearly half of an estimated eight million people who will be hurt by the loss of about 1.7 million jobs this year as a result of businesses closing, salaries being suspended and other effects of lockdowns in the region.
“It is evident that the pandemic is affecting children firsthand. Many families in the region are already becoming poorer due to the loss of jobs especially the daily-paid,” Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s regional director in the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement issued on Monday from Amman.
“Families are struggling to bring food to their table due to containment measures,” he added.
About 110 million children are now at home and not in schools in the region, UNICEF said.
Humanitarian agencies and NGOs say curfews and lockdowns are already making it difficult or impossible for many to provide for their families.
UNICEF estimates that there are 25 million children in need, including refugees and internally displaced people from conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Sudan Palestinian territories, Iraq and Libya,
The agency said it was appealing for $92 million to allow it to step up its efforts to combat COVID-19.
Millions already lack health care, food, water and electricity in conflict-stricken countries where prices are rising and infrastructure damaged, UN and humanitarian agencies say.
“The combination of lack or inadequate basic services, years of conflict in several parts of the region, poverty, deprivation and now COVID-19 are hitting vulnerable children the most, making their hard lives simply unbearable,” Chaiban said.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi. Editing by Gerry Doyle