European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights Statement on the impact of COVID-19 on children

 

The Coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of enormous proportions with a high cost in terms of human lives, as well as immense economic impact.  In these critical times, it is important not to forget the most vulnerable, as the virus does not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age and religious affiliation.

Many are the issues at stake for our children and this pandemic is likely to have long-lasting consequences, but together we can make them shorter. The current pandemic is in fact putting a disproportionate strain on children living in poverty, homeless children, refugee children, children in care, stateless and undocumented children, and children with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses, among others. Children and young people will have to face a new different reality after the crisis and their future seems compromised, therefore they will have to be part of the solution, as the responsibility of the reconstruction will lie on them.

We therefore call on the European Commission to:

  • Put in place specific measures to tackle increasing domestic violence against children, as well as the impact of violence that children experience in the household as witnesses, such as campaigns to end violence against children, reinforce cooperation and information sharing through ad hoc funding of EU agencies, including by setting up special emergency numbers;
  • Work out specific strategies to tackle online child sexual abuse & exploitation, given the increase in online presence and online activities connected to the restrictive measures enacted to limit the spread of the COVID-19;

 

Furthermore, we call on the EU Member States to:

  • Put in place specific measures to tackle mental health issues experienced by children and young people as a result – or aggravated by – the restrictive measures enacted to limit the spread of the COVID-19;
  • Ensure that children in institutions and detained children are assisted in community-based facilities by the trained professionals and that alternatives measures such as hosting families are facilitated during the COVID-19 outbreak with reduced staff;
  • Safeguard help to families with children with disabilities, or families with parents with disabilities, who need to stay in contact with professional structures, whose functioning might have been compromised by or who can no longer rely on the help of specialised professionals as a result of the restrictive measures enacted to limit the spread of the COVID-19;
  • Act on the already-pledged relocation of unaccompanied children from Greece and the Greek islands to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to the overcrowded camps and facilities; Work out concrete alternatives for unaccompanied children and children with families who are hosted in overcrowded reception facilities;
  • Ensure continuing access to quality education, for example by providing access to remote learning programs, developing and promoting free and open digital tools such as educational TV and radio programmes, online content, internet-based and other Distance Learning Programmes;
  • Inform children in a child-friendly manner about the effects of the Coronavirus and the reasons behind all the restrictive measures enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19;

 

We have all learnt the hard way that preparedness is the key in crisis-management; therefore it is crucial to work out these specific actions to be taken to ensure children and young people will have the possibility to thrive and reach their full potential when this crisis will be over. Many are the concerns, in such an unprecedented crisis, and we believe that the European Union has a unique opportunity to show leadership and solidarity, as we are all in this together, ensuring no one is left behind.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lega MEP, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Caterina Chinnici MEP, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Hilde Vautmans MEP, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Saskia Bricmont MEP, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

 

Antonio Lopez Isturiz MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights, Secretary-General of the EPP

Javier Moreno Sanchez MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights, Head of the Spanish S&D delegation

Laurence Farreng MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Dragos Pislaru MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Alexandra Geese MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

Laura Ferrara MEP, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights

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