Life for thousands of Liberians children and the most at-risk inhabitants remain challenging, unsafe, and vulnerable during these emergencies. Let’s look around and see how many children that are out there fetching for ends meet and survivability. Do we really care about their future? Do we know that they are at high risk of contracting the coronavirus? Are their rights really protected? Are we willing as patriotic citizens to help them out?
I know that in a crisis of such, children and the most at-risk suffer unduly. This pandemic is no different. It is our responsibility as a national Government, and actors through the Ministry of Gender Social Protection, national civil society organizations and child rights advocacy groups to monster the courage and prevent abuses against children, and protect the health of every child across Liberia. We must look beyond and ensure that risk-informed decisions on COVID-19 control measures are made based on the best available indicators in order to minimize and prevent any damages and to provide mitigation measures so the damage is not permanent.
I know the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt hardest by the world’s most at-risk children, and my dear country Liberia is no exception. Many already live in abject poverty, the consequences of COVID-19 response measures will reduce them further into hardship. As thousands of parents struggle through Liberia to maintain their incomes, governments must be able to scale up social protection measures, by providing cash transfers, protecting jobs, working with employers to support working parents, and prioritizing policies that connect families to life-saving health care, nutrition and education.
“According to the World Bank publication through FrontPage Africa, announces about 54 percent of the population of Liberia is living below the poverty line. This means they live on less than $US2.00 a day.
A few years ago, the civil conflict and the Ebola Outbreak were the worst situations we ever got as a Country, where children were deeply affected and many of them lived hopelessly. During these crises, children were at heightened risk of exploitation, violence, and abuse when schools were all closed, social services were further interrupted, and movement was restricted. During these crises, children were forced to labor, subjected to neglect, sexual abuse, and teenage pregnancy was on the increase. The most common form of violence children face today, takes place in the home. Children are the future of every nation, they are our next breed of national leaders, we should give them that full support by protecting them within these challenging times.
Unless we act swiftly to address the pandemic’s impacts on children, the significance of COVID-19 will perpetually damage our shared future as a country. Let’s reflect and act now to save the lives of the many children in the streets as vendors.
By Varney Teddy Wilson
National Youth Leader – Liberia