It calls for an immediate moratorium on new admissions of children to detention facilities
Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has said hundreds of thousands of children currently detained in countries around the world are at grave risk of contracting Covid-19.
Many are being held in confined and overcrowded spaces with inadequate access to nutrition, healthcare and hygiene services – conditions that are highly conducive to the spread of diseases like Covid-19.
An outbreak in one of these facilities could happen at any moment, she said in a statement on Monday.
The detained children are also more vulnerable to neglect, abuse and gender-based violence, especially if staffing levels or care are negatively impacted by the pandemic or containment measures.
Across the globe, children are in the juvenile justice system including in pre-trial custody, being held in immigration detention or on other administrative grounds, detained in relation to armed conflict, national security or activism, or living with parents in detention.
Release all children
These children and those at risk of contracting the virus due to underlying physical and mental health conditions should be released, the statement added.
Henrietta Fore said we call on governments and other detaining authorities to urgently release all children who can safely return to their families or an appropriate alternative. Such alternatives include extended families, other family- or community-based care.
Unicef also calls for an immediate moratorium on new admissions of children to detention facilities.
Unicef and the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, along with leading child rights organizations, academics and UN agencies have released guidance on key actions authorities can take to protect children deprived of their liberty during the pandemic.
The organization stands ready to assist authorities in preparing to release children, including through identifying safe conditions.
The rights of children to protection, safety and wellbeing must be upheld at all times, even and especially during crises like the one the world faces now. The best way to uphold the rights of detained children amidst a dangerous pandemic is their safe release.
The fast spreading coronavirus, which was first reported in China's Wuhan, has claimed above 114,300 lives and infected more than 1,857,600 people across the world till date, according to Worldometers.
As many as 428,756 people have recovered from Covid-19, a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, which has spread to 210 countries and territories around the world and two international conveyances.