The World Council of Churches is standing behind the statement, which comprises the reflections—and commitments to action—of children, young people and religious leaders from more than 53 countries.
The roundtable, initiated by Arigatou International, was co-sponsored by UNICEF, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, Religions for Peace, the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty, and World Vision International.
“Children themselves tell us — and research confirms — that they are suffering grievously from the loss of family members to the pandemic, a serious disruption of school life, an alarming increase in various forms of violence against them, a noticeable deepening of poverty, the devastating impact the pandemic is having on the adults in their lives, as well as the divisive and, at times, competing narratives and misleading information about how to stay safe during the pandemic,” the statement reads. “Children who were already disadvantaged by poverty and more vulnerable are being affected even more gravely, and their very development and even survival are threatened.”
Children are the priceless treasure of humanity, the statement continues. “The potentially irreversible damage to children’s lives we are witnessing is not only unacceptable in and of itself; it also puts the future of humanity at greater risk,” reads the statement. “Yet, sadly, children continue to remain largely invisible and absent in the global community’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement emphasizes that children have a unique and essential role to play. “To this end, it is imperative that we all work together in solidarity to transform the divisions, inequities and injustices in all of our societies,” the message reads. “We will not yield to a pandemic-driven existence of isolation, deprivation, and disease.”