Updated: June 2, 2021 6:28:29 am
A total of 1,742 children were orphaned, 140 abandoned and 7,464 children have lost one parent because of the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020, National Commission for Child Rights (NCPCR) has told the Supreme Court.
In an affidavit filed in the top court, the commission said these children — 9,346 in total — are in need of care and that 3,711 children are in the 8-13 age group.
Leading the tally is Uttar Pradesh with 2,110 children in need of protection — 270 orphaned, 10 abandoned and 1,830 who lost a parent. Bihar is second with 1,327 children in need of protection — 292 orphaned and 1,035 children who had lost one parent, followed by Kerala with 952 children in need of protection — 49 orphaned, 8 abandoned and 895 losing either parent.
Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of orphaned children, 318, followed by Bihar with 292, UP with 270 and Telangana with 123. A total of 1,830 children in Uttar Pradesh lost either parent, followed by 1,035 in Bihar and 895 in Kerala.
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Hearing a suo motu case concerning the welfare of children in protection homes in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SC had on May 28 asked states and Union Territories to upload data on the number of affected children since March 2020 in the ‘Bal Swaraj’ portal set up by NCPCR by May 29 evening.
Presenting the statistics accordingly recieved on the portal to the court, the commission however urged it to extend the time for submission considering the situation as the uploading “is expected to be an ongoing process and the same should not be misunderstood by anyone to be restricted till 29.05.2021.”
The affidavit pointed to the various financial packages announced for orphaned children under the PM Cares fund and added that it is also receiving proposals from private donors for supporting the children.
The commission submitted that it is of the opinion that the children who have lost either of the parent to Covid-19 and have been placed with the surviving single parent are also in need of financial assistance and can be entitled to implemented Government schemes and therefore, the benefit of the government schemes and financial assistance be also extended to them.
“The financial assistance would ensure that the child could continue his or her education while continuing to live in the same environment, which is essential for the mental health of the child, who is already trying to cope up with that loss of a parent. Financial support to such family of single parent would be of significance”, the affidavit said.
The NCPCR said it has “initiated action and pilot launch mapping of Children & Families vulnerable to child trafficking and matching them with benefits under various Schemes of Government of India and State Governments” and recommended that “such extensive mapping…is be undertaken in all the Districts of all the States within the country which are potential “Source”, “Transit” and “Destination” Hotspots of Child Trafficking, as per the information available with Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) and NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau).
It also delineated steps taken in preparation of the anticipated third Covid-19 wave and aid it had written to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) seeking information on protocols/guidelines developed by the Council for treatment and clinical management of children who test positive for the virus. These protocols, it said, will be further shared with the State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) for dissemination in States/UTs.
To prepare for neonatal and children emergency situations, the Commission said it has requested the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to issue necessary directions for emergency transport services/ambulances suitable for children and neonatal. It also wrote to the Indian Academy of Pediatrics seeking technical assistance on preventive aspects to be undertaken to monitor and mitigate the risk factors for children.
The affidavit also said that for effective monitoring of functioning of Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) and Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) in Districts, it has developed an online mechanism for seeking information from variousDistricts of States/ UTs.
The Commission said it had also issued advisory to Chief Secretaries of all States/UTs “informing about the growing problem of illegal adoption during the second surge of COVID-19 and advising to produce the children before the Child Welfare Committees, so that necessary action can be taken in the best interest of those children”.
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