The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says Syrian children, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen make up more than a third of all children displaced in their own countries due to violence and conflict. Other countries with more than one million neglected children at home include Colombia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan.

UN Children’s Fund spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado, told VOA that urgent action was needed to protect millions of abandoned children from the various risks they face. He said the children were denied basic services, including education and health care.

“They are uprooted and thrown out of the environment they know so that they face a variety of risks, including more violence, exploitation, harassment and even human trafficking. Many children also risk being employed or married off early and separated from their families, ”Mercado said.

Another risk is the threat of Covid-19, a disease caused by the corona virus. Mercado said the pandemic was exacerbating a critical situation for the unusually high number of abandoned children and their families.

“They live in overcrowded camps or informal settlements where sanitary conditions are far from ideal and where physical distancing is impossible to maintain. “Covid-19 disrupts immunization campaigns around the world, putting children at higher risk of exposure to diseases that should be preventable with vaccines,” he said.

Mercado said he was worried that it could be bad for children.

UNICEF calls on governments, communities and the private sector to come together and invest in concrete actions that protect and provide adequate access to essential services for all displaced children and their families.

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