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The economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of parents to expose their children to begging, child labor, and child marriage to make up for lost incomes, a new report from World Vision has disclosed.

The report, released on Wednesday, surveyed 14,000 families in nine Asian countries, 2,400 small business owners in Africa, and 360 Venezuelan migrants across Latin America. The survey revealed 110 million children worldwide are going hungry, and 8 million children have been pushed into child labor and begging amid the pandemic. 

The report claims previous “alarming” predictions around increasing levels of violence, poverty, and hunger as a direct result of the virus are already being seen. As predicted, those who were already living among conflict and displacement and with the effects of climate change are hardest hit. 

"Our rapid assessments in countries across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia show we are on the cusp of a catastrophe for children,” said World Vision New Zealand National Director Grant Bayldon, according to Scoop New Zealand. “Each assessment shows major disruptions in income, in the ability to buy sufficient food, and increases in risks to children as families struggle to cope.”

Bayldon added: “The effects are already being seen, and could lead to an increase in extreme poverty and hunger not seen for decades.”

Among the surveyed families in Asia, one-third have lost work.

Sixty percent said they depend on casual daily labor as a key source of income, of which 34% said transport restrictions were now the most significant barrier to receiving an income. 

One-third of families claim they have just one week’s food supply left. 

The report also revealed that within Cambodia, 28% of families faced job losses that were so substantial they were forced to send their children to work. In Bangladesh, 34% of families who reported significant income loss said they have sent their children to beg on the streets.

Among Indian city slums, 40% of respondents claim they have witnessed spikes in domestic violence.

Rekha, a 15-year-old from Delhi, said travel restrictions and reductions in family income mean individuals have to break laws and risk getting sick to access food from ration shops. 

"There is a problem of food and rations. How will people like daily wage earners manage? My father is also a laborer, and even we are finding it hard to manage our home,” she is quoted in the report. “There are lots of problems in other homes as well.”

In response to the pandemic, World Vision has established a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan.

The plan aims to meet the basic needs of 72 million in-need individuals while also addressing the longer-term economic impacts on communities. 

Alongside the plan, World Vision continues to urge world leaders to scale up food and cash assistance, prioritize gender-responsive interventions and ensure the continuity of essential commodities for their country's most vulnerable citizens. 


Defeat Poverty

8 Million Children Have Been Pushed Into Child Labor and Begging Due to COVID-19: Report

By Madeleine Keck