Call 1098 or 181 to support children orphaned by COVID19
Lucknow. A media briefing was organized by UNICEF in association with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday to update media about the state’s mechanism for care and protection of such children.
The officials of the Department of Women and Child Development said that all cases of children whose parents have died or are hospitalized and the children are in need of care and protection should be immediately reported to Childline 1098 or Women Helpline number 181.
Ms. Ruth Leano, Chief of UNICEF Field Office Uttar Pradesh said, “The COVID19 pandemic has affected children across the globe. We are deeply concerned by the suffering of children who have lost one or both parents to COVID19. They are in need of immediate care and protection. We call upon all NGOs and community-based organizations to identify such children in need and to immediately inform the Childline 1098 or Women Helpline 181”.
Ms. V. Hekali Zhimomi, Principal Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “The government is proactively tracking such children and is committed to ensuring that every child is protected. We have seen adoption appeals circulate and become viral. Not only are they illegal, they also potentially expose the children to exploitation, away from the security of extended family and institutions”.
Dr. Vishesh Gupta, Chairperson State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) said, “SCPCR is taking cognizance of all children who have been affected due to COVID. We are concerned about the safety of these children as they are soft targets for abuse and trafficking and have written to the government regarding the same.”
Talking about the initiatives taken by the government, Mr. Manoj Kumar Rai, Director Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “The state government is working on a rehabilitation scheme for all such children. Their safety and protection is our prime concern and we are working towards it. The department is busy identifying all such children who have lost either one or both parents to COVID and are trying to reach out to them.” Mr Rai encouraged people to contact the District Probation Officers or call the Helpline with information about such children.
Setting the context for the child rights crisis arising out of COVID19, Mr Aftab Mohammad Child Protection Specialist UNICEF India Country Office said, “Pandemic has deeply impacted children. Children have been deprived of their childhood without access to school, friends or playing outdoors. And now, children are witnessing deaths around and living with a constant fear of losing near ones. This calls for our renewed commitment towards them as a society”.
Abhishek Pathak, Senior Program Coordinator of Childline Uttar Pradesh talked about the functioning and mechanism of Childline in the state. He also presented a comparative analysis of calls received by Childline before and during the pandemic.
An open discussion was also held on the emerging issues in which media actively participated. The discussion was moderated by Mr Amit Mehrotra, Programme Manager, UNICEF Uttar Pradesh.