The COVID-19 pandemic that led to the deaths of over 4 million people worldwide also caused a spike in the number of children who are now orphaned, a new report has revealed.
By April, over a year after countries worldwide were hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s estimated that as many as 1.5 million children younger than 18 years old had lost a mother, father, grandparent or caregiver who died of complications from COVID-19.
The report, titled “Children: The Hidden Pandemic 2021,” stresses that the implications of a pandemic are “lifelong and intergenerational.”
“The data on death and illness have clearly focused attention on the tragic and disproportionate burden among older adults — yet this has served to divert attention and understanding away from the needs of the world’s children,” the report reads.
Because of this, the report suggests that global and national responses should also focus on the children who’ve lost parents or caregivers to COVID-19.
Faith-based child welfare organizations that are part of the Faith to Action Initiative have responded to the report by noting that while it shows the circumstances of newly orphaned children worldwide, it fails to show the need to invest in family-based care and strengthen vulnerable families.
These groups, which include Christian Alliance for Orphans, Bethany Christian Services, World Without Orphans and Faith in Action, are encouraging churches to take action by financially helping families that are suffering such losses to ensure that children who lost one or more caregivers aren’t sent to orphanages, but instead can be cared for by surviving family or relatives.
Elli Oswald, executive director of Faith to Action Initiative, said the churches are best placed to carry out God’s intention for a loving family and “best placed” to respond to the orphaned children by ensuring “a child never needs to be placed in an orphanage.”
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