New York: Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the United Nation’s (UN) children agency, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) has warned that more than four children could die every minute due to the direct impact of COVID-19.

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UNICEF has appealed for $1.6 billion, up from $651.6 million requested in a similar appeal late March, to support its humanitarian response for children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It said an additional 6,000 children under the age of five years could die a day – more than four children every minute – due to the direct impact of COVID-19.

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“The urgent action we take today can prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming a lasting crisis for children, especially the most vulnerable. There is no time to lose. Without immediate funding and key lifesaving interventions to deliver essentials, strengthen health systems and maintain routine services for vulnerable children, an additional 6,000 children under five could die a day – more than four children every minute – due to the direct impact of COVID-19,” UNICEF said.

It added, “COVID-19 isn’t just tackling under-resourced fragile health systems, it’s attacking the way children access education, the way their families earn an income to cover their needs, and how safe they feel in their homes, communities and countries. This is a child right’s crisis. Right now, UNICEF staff is on the ground doing everything in our power to ensure that children don't feel the impact of this crisis for decades to come.”

“The pandemic is a health crisis which is quickly becoming a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Schools are closed, parents are out of work and families are under growing strain. As we begin to reimagine what a post-COVID world would look like, these funds will help us respond to the crisis, recover from its aftermath, and protect children from its knock-on effects.”

According to a UNICEF analysis, some 77 per cent of children under the age of 18 worldwide, or 1.8 billion, are living in one of the 132 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families.