The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says COVID-19 is a harsh reality for children in South Africa.

The agency says children risk becoming its biggest victims.

UNICEF South Africa representative Christine Muhigana says many caregivers have also lost their livelihoods, making it difficult for them to attend to their children’s needs.

She was speaking at the Child Protection Week launch in Benoni, east of Johannesburg.

First introduced in 1997, Child Protection Week is an annual national campaign to engage and educate the public to play its part in keeping children safe in families and communities.

Muhigana says, “The COVID-19 pandemic remains a harsh reality for children in SA. Their rights have been severely compromised, education disrupted and many caregivers have lost their livelihoods. They lost income and the ability to care for their children. Furthermore, child health services have been affected and food insecurity has led to reports of many children suffering from hunger.”

In the video below, UNICEF’s Mayke Huijbregt speaks on the Child Protection Week campaign: