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بيان الشبكة العربية لتنمية الطفولة المبكرة في مواجهة أزمة كورونا

ANECD Statement in Response to Corona Crisis

We, at the Arab Network for Early Childhood Development including as members governmental institutions, civil society bodies, academics and specialists from different Arab countries, as well as regional and international networks and institutions in the field of early childhood development and care, seek to ensure that children in Arab countries and societies enjoy their rights, happiness, and well-being in an enriching environment of freedom, social justice, and equality. We announce that we are directly concerned with removing the injustice that children and caregivers are experiencing during the Corona pandemic crisis, due to risks to their health, development, care, protection, and learning, in addition to serious violations of their rights, preventing them from achieving their full potentials and best interest now and in the future.

Our Arab countries did certainly not need Corona pandemic to complement their political and economic rift and social disintegration. This rift would further endanger the health, development and care of children, as most of these countries no longer have any of the infrastructure and resources to face the comprehensive health catastrophe to which they are heading. Moreover, half of the children in these countries already suffer from poverty and deprivation of basic services of education, housing, nutrition, health care, potable water and sanitation, and access to correct and useful information.

Before Corona pandemic spread in all parts of the world, at least 250 million children were at risk of not achieving their full potential. It is certain that this number will increase with the exhaustion of health and educational systems, the closure of borders, the prevention of travel and the closure of child care homes, nurseries and schools, which will expose more families, families, caregivers and societies to the social, economic, health and psychological repercussions of the pandemic.

Corona may have fewer infections among children, but the effects of the epidemic will affect them directly as many families in Arab countries have become poorer due to the increase in unemployment and the loss of daily work income. We can add psychological distress as a result of the closure of schools, kindergartens, and nurseries, the curfews, the lack of exercise and playing outside the home, and their inability to meet their friends.

Coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating this range of factors that will particularly affect the most vulnerable children, whether the ones with disabilities, the malnourished, the ones who live in contexts of domestic violence, gender discrimination, abuse, and neglect, and the millions of children who are now in their homes as a result of quarantine, in addition to refugee and displaced children, most of whom were uprooted from their homes due to armed conflicts and wars in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Libya and Sudan. There are also the families and care givers of the Arab community children inside the Palestinian Occupied Land where the policies of exclusion, marginalization, and racial discrimination practices by Israel contributed in the spread of the virus among them, as preventive measures and needed care were not available. The result of all this is that Arab countries and societies have the biggest number of vulnerable children in the world!

Thus, ANECD calls for coordinating all efforts of governments, international and national institutions, civil society organizations, and academic bodies to the following:

  1. Defend the rights of children, especially in the Arab region already suffering from poverty, inequality, and lack of freedoms, after violations of these rights have reached unprecedented levels of toxic stress

  2. Attach extreme importance to the protection of children in light of the wars, migrations, and displacement, given that Covid-19 came to increase the impact of the direct and permanent threats to their lives: more exposure to violence, decline in available health services, abuse and neglect, increase in child labor, sexual exploitation, food insecurity, loss of access to learning, and gender discrimination

  3. Prioritize parents and caregivers personal care, means and tools necessary for them to achieve their primary role in responsive parenting needed now more than ever to protect their children in these difficult circumstances and fragile contexts

  4. Promote digital empowerment and security needed for children and for families and caregivers to confront a "misinformation epidemic" that includes fake news, incorrect and inaccurate information, sexual content, and recruiting children for military actions.

Studies have proven that interest in Early Childhood has a great impact on the development of the child's brain in later stages of life, and it also has a significant impact on the quality of life, welfare, and progress in the future... A strong start is a guide to a future that is more powerful... - and more vivacious...

The present of our children and their caregivers is at risk, and their future does not seem to be better unless all efforts join in global solidarity to face this massive crisis, a crisis that immediate and sporadic efforts or fragmented solutions will not overcome.