It is no secret that 17 year old Greta Thunberg, is a powerful, strong young woman. She has single-handedly led a worldwide movement, including marches in over 200,000 cities regarding climate change. Now, she is adding to her list of passions by launching a new campaign called, Let’s Move Humanity for Children in the Fight Against Coronavirus.
As of April 30th, she announced through social media her alliance with Danish NGO Human Act, to promote a joint-campaign with UNICEF. The Greta Thunberg Foundation and Human Act hope to contribute to pre-existing efforts made by UNICEF to provide and protect all children who will be and have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, whether it be directly or indirectly.
UNICEF released a video yesterday morning of Thunberg, in which she claimed, “It is always the poorest and most vulnerable people who will suffer the most from a crisis, whether it is the climate crisis or the corona crisis.” She goes on to say, “Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis.”
In fact, UNICEF stated in their press release that, “A report issued this month by the United Nations warned that children risk being among the biggest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. While children have been largely spared from the direct health effects of the disease up to this point, the crisis is having a profound effect on their overall wellbeing. All children, of all ages and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by the mitigation measures implemented to stem the spread of the disease.”
The pandemic can cause lifelong disruptions and impacts for some children, which is why it is essential to know the ways in which this can occur. According to the report, these are the main ways children will be affected outside of the virus itself: poverty, mental health, education, and malnutrition/death.
It is estimated that 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty, adding to the already 386 million children residing here, as of 2019.
In terms of education, 188 countries have taken part in closing their schools due to the pandemic, leaving some 1.5 billion children without proper access to education. Two-thirds of these countries have implemented online education, through platforms such as Zoom or Canvas, yet a third of the world does not have access to digital platforms. If anything, this only brings attention to the overwhelming need of worldwide internet access. Like water, food, or shelter, the internet has become a necessity not a luxury.
Due to quarantine measures, children are at higher risk of witnessing or experiencing violence and abuse within the home. Online learning also exposes children further to non- child friendly information and predatory behaviors.
Finally, due to economical loss and hardship, the world could be facing hundreds of thousands of child deaths just this year alone. Malnutrition is set to become a larger issue as well, since some 368.5 million children rely on school meals to fulfill their daily nutrition.
“The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest struggle the world has seen in generations,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Children and young people are among the most severely impacted by the knock-on effects of COVID-19, so it is only natural that they would want to do something about it. Through her activism, Greta Thunberg has proven that young people are ready to take a stand and lead change in the world. UNICEF is very pleased that Greta and her supporters have not only chosen to take a stand against this pandemic, but to do so in partnership with UNICEF.” -UNICEF
As a means to launch the campaign, Greta has donated $100,000, which Human Act has matched. She was able to do this from the $100,000 that Human Act awarded her foundation, Greta Thunberg Foundation, for her global activism efforts. This money is going towards UNICEF’s emergency programs, which provide masks, gloves, soap, hygiene kits, protective equipment, among other things.
In addition to this, to ensure protective and preventive measures, UNICEF is doing the following to aid in children’s needs during this scary time:
- Providing access to supplies for women, children, and vulnerable people.
- Heavily promoting and educating on hand washing procedures.
- Giving supplies and aid to health care workers and governments, including gowns, gloves, and masks.
- Supporting online education for students who have limited access, or no access to the internet.
- Supplying mental health support to children and families affected.
- Maintaining immunization techniques and supplies for children in need.
However, the fight doesn’t end here. Greta, being the advocate and activist that she is, continues to bring attention to crisis management, whether that be coronavirus or climate change. She spoke out in a Global Citizen article about how we can take our activism online. She states, “The virus crisis ‘doesn’t mean we need to let go completely of activism,’ she added. “We can do it online and at home. We just need to be creative and find new ways.”
If anything, she believes the world’s response to COVID-19 only demonstrates and solidifies the ideology that it is completely feasible to work as diligently and as proficiently with other crises, such as that of climate change.
Fridays4Future, an international organization of young climate activists, have already started to adapt to these suggestions. They have taken their protests online with the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline, and recently held a #FightEveryCrisis online protest in Germany, in which they received over 230,000 participants. It is evident that online protests, strikes, and spreading of news and information has an extremely large impact, especially when everyone is stuck in their homes. That is why UNICEF, as well as Thunberg, have chosen social media platforms to announce their alliance in providing aid to this child crisis.
Thunberg is calling for your help. She stated, “I’m asking everyone to step up and join me in support of UNICEF’s vital work to save children’s lives, to protect health and continue education.” If you, or someone you know, would like to donate, please visit UNICEF’s Join Greta page for more information.