The current Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way of life of people from all countries across our region. All the systems our societies are built upon are challenged and their shortages bluntly exposed by this crisis. Careful analysis is required to ensure in-depth understanding of the gaps in the systems that we need to change to ensure proper protection for the most vulnerable children and adequate realization of children rights for all. Immediate action and increased cooperation among all actors is required in order to diminish the impact of crises on the children in our region and safeguard their physical and psychological health.
Governments, donors, CSOs, media and adult citizens share the overarching responsibility to safeguard the best interest of the child in all actions undertaken to contain the spread of the virus and ensure life preservation and safety of all children, especially children with disabilities and special needs, children without parental care or refugee and migrant children.
Among our utmost concerns are:
- Severe exacerbation of the impact of poverty and deprivation affecting large numbers of vulnerable children and families, many of which are already experiencing hunger
- Severe limitation or complete deprivation of significant numbers of children, especially children with special needs and children without parental care, of access to basic services like care and assistance, education, psychological support, therapy, counseling and rehabilitation
- Significant increase of exposure of children to violence due to extended lockdown and/or improper living conditions and online violence due to increased access to internet and limited supervision
- Significant increase of the unequal access to education of children from vulnerable families, children without parental care or children in rural and marginalized urban areas due to limited access to internet and availability of adequate devices
- Exclusion of CSOs from access to governmental plans for mitigating the economic impact of the current pandemic, exposing employees of CSOs to diminished or complete loss of income and beneficiaries to deprivation of support and services provided by CSOs
- Include CSOs in the contingency support measures prepared for overcoming the economic challenges of the crisis
- Cooperate with CSOs for identification and support of the high-risk families (single parent families, families experiencing poverty, low income families, marginalized families, families with improper living conditions etc.)
- Support CSOs in organizing volunteers to provide assistance to the most vulnerable (include volunteering in the list of allowed activities, provide safety equipment for volunteers, ensure openness and cooperation from the public institutions working with vulnerable groups to accept CSOs and volunteer support in full respect of the safety and security guidelines)
- Provide free internet access and devices for children in vulnerable families, rural areas or residential and alternative care to ensure their access to education
- Identify and implement measures that will ensure long lasting solutions for problems such as adequate housing and access to water affecting thousands of children
- Adjust the administrative procedures to the size of grants and ensure smooth application and reporting processes to allow concentration of time and efforts for the intervention rather than the administrative requirements
- Take a flexible approach with regard to the projects and programs currently under implementation allowing for changes in activity type and budget allocations adapted to the current situation (replacing face to face activities with alternative actions, relocation of budgets towards emergency support and assistance etc.)
- Support with small grants the CSOs’ administrative activities, including but not limited to office costs, administrative and financial management, communication costs (fixed and mobile telephony, internet, etc.) as the amount of administrative expenses has increased due to the efforts of CSOs to mobilize volunteers and provide assistance to the most vulnerable
- Tailor communication to be child-friendly, avoiding sensationalism and drama in coverage of the pandemic
- Communicate wisely the current reality based on correct, complete and double-checked information
- Offer pro-bono space (radio, TV, written press) for online educational activities, showcase of volunteer support and exposure of positive news that may help the population deal better with distress and isolation caused by the crisis
APSCF is a founding member of ChildPact.
Read the full declaration here.