Call to action in response to COVID-19 for children in fragile and conflict-affected environments -The Early Childhood Peace Consortium

The Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) is a global movement of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, among others; which seeks to share scientific evidence on how investment in early childhood and its development contributes to a more sustainable, peaceful and just society, thereby reducing poverty, violence and exclusion. At this time of pandemic, ECPC joins the call for “global ceasefire in every corner of the world” of the United Nations, so that the 250 million lives of children living in the most affected areas of conflict, as UNICEF studies have shown.

The closure of institutions dedicated to ECEC for the pandemic has exacerbated the difficulties in accessing health and education by children, especially those in conflict zones. According to UNICEF statistics, 43% of children under the age of 5 are at risk of their development potential, and some of this percentage corresponds to migrant children and in conflict zones.

Since the start of the pandemic by COVID-19, States have taken the measures they consider most appropriate, but the little ones have been invisible victims of this crisis. The abrupt separation of their teachers, peers and even family members, and the stress that caregivers may be experiencing, because of the difficult circumstances, can affect the emotional and mental health of children, these situations are even more difficult, for early childhood living in conflict zones and in the most adverse contexts.

As described above, the Early Childhood Peace Consortium urges States, leaders, the local and international community, to urgently protect and invest in the protection of the rights of the smallest, especially those living in the most fragile contexts. Adequate state intervention in favour of early childhood protection would reduce the long-term impacts of the pandemic, which become more urgent in the most violated contexts and, in turn, could break cycles of poverty, inequality, leading to a world with more justice and social cohesion.

This is why ECPC is sharing some immediate, medium-term and long-term recommendations:

Immediate recommendations

  • Invest in programs for children and families in conflict, displacement and military occupation zones.
  •  Ensure that essential protective services are available to early childhood at all times, including during times of quarantine or other restriction.
  • Prioritize the protection of early childhood, especially for children who are most at risk, exploitation, violence, abuse or other type of violation.
  • Use mass media, such as television and radio to promote the psychosocial, cognitive, physical dimension, among others.
  • Invest in research on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts children and their families.

  Medium-term  recommendations:

  • Ensure an inclusive approach for all children and their families in conflict contexts, migrants and refugees, in displacement, or any situation of vulnerability
  • Defend the rights of the most violated children, especially during the course of the pandemic.
  • Protect women and children without any discrimination.

Long-term  recommendations:

  • Build a strong body of research on early childhood development, peace and sustainable development
  • Invest in strengthening all systems.

Finally, the ECPC calls for action to reaffirm the commitment to human rights and children’s rights, to prioritize funding for the survival, protection and development of children in contexts of conflict, displacement and military occupation; prioritise and invest in early childhood during and after the pandemic, ensure gender equality, inclusion and early childhood empowerment, and implement more effective and inclusive policies for all.

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