New Delhi: Altogether 88 Nobel laureates and world leaders, as part of Laureates and Leaders for Children, issued a statement calling for the world’s governments to unite and prioritise the world’s children during their lockdowns and in the aftermath.
Founded by 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, who has fought tirelessly for decades against child labour, slavery and trafficking, Laureates and Leaders for Children highlights challenges faced by the world’s most vulnerable children and advocates for solutions.
“We, the Laureates and Leaders for Children, demand that the most marginalized and vulnerable children are not forgotten by governments during this grave crisis and beyond. We must act now or risk losing an entire generation,” said Kailash Satyarthi.
Except Satyarthi, the statement is signed by none other than the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prince Ali Al Hussein, Leymah Gbowee, Kerry Kennedy, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jose Ramos-Horta, Mary Robinson and Guy Ryder.
COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in our world. The virus, restrictions placed on the majority of the world’s population, and the aftermath will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable, the statement said.
The pandemic’s public health emergency is set to exacerbate the exploitation of children. Trapped in homes to escape the virus, children are at greater risk of sexual abuse and domestic violence. As restrictions are lifted, children will be trafficked, forced out of school and into labour, bearing the burden of sustaining their families.
“If, for once, our world gave the most marginalised children and their families their fair share – 20% of the COVID-19 response for the poorest 20% of humanity – the results would be transformative. One trillion dollars would fund all outstanding UN and charity COVID-19 appeals, cancel two years of all debt repayments from low-income countries, and fund two years of the global gap to meet the SDGs on health, water and sanitation, and education. More than 10 million lives would be saved,” it said, adding: “We call on leaders of the G20 to take additional action beyond their own borders for those who urgently need coordinated international aid. We also call on all G20 leaders to honour existing global health commitments.”
Even as the mass exodus of the migrant labourers from different states was on, Assam also experienced the return of nearly 200,000 people, including labourers, during the national lockdown. A bulk of these returnees were quarantined, subsequently discharged and allowed to return to their respective homes. A large number of these labourers — no specific number can be assigned now — returned to their home state with their children. While three children were found to be Covid-19 positive, a teenager died because of complications caused by the virus.
As much as 21.3 per cent of Assam’s population lives below the poverty line. According to the 2011 Census, while 46,38,130 children are the below the age of seven, there number of adolescents is 6.5 million. Assam is one of the main sources of child trafficking and the state has recorded 5,447 cases of crime against children in 2018 as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, and out of these 49 cases were related to child trafficking while eight for selling children for prostitution.