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Children cannot afford another year of school disruption [EN/AR]

Children cannot afford another year of school disruption [EN/AR]

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© UNICEF/UNI362245/Everett

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

NEW YORK, 12 January 2021 – “As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as cases continue to soar around the world, no effort should be spared to keep schools open or prioritize them in reopening plans.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of the impact of school closures on children, and despite increasing evidence that schools are not drivers of the pandemic, too many countries have opted to keep schools closed, some for nearly a year.

“The cost of closing schools – which at the peak of pandemic lockdowns affected 90 per cent of students worldwide and left more than a third of schoolchildren with no access to remote education – has been devastating.

“The number of out-of-school children is set to increase by 24 million, to a level we have not seen in years and have fought so hard to overcome.

“Children’s ability to read, write and do basic math has suffered, and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy have diminished.

“Their health, development, safety and well-being are at risk. The most vulnerable among them will bear the heaviest brunt.

“Without school meals, children are left hungry and their nutrition is worsening. Without daily interactions with their peers and a reduction in mobility, they are losing physical fitness and showing signs of mental distress. Without the safety net that school often provides, they are more vulnerable to abuse, child marriage and child labour.

“That’s why closing schools must be a measure of last resort, after all other options have been considered.

“Assessing the risk of transmission at the local level should be a key determinant in decisions on school operations. Nationwide school closures must be avoided whenever possible. Where there are high levels of community transmission, where health systems are under extreme pressure and where closing schools is deemed inevitable, safeguarding measures must be put in place. This includes ensuring that children who are at risk of violence in their homes, who are reliant upon school meals and whose parents are essential workers are able to continue their education in their classrooms.

“In case of lockdowns, schools must be among the first to reopen once authorities start lifting restrictions. Catch-up classes should be prioritized to ensure that children who have been unable to learn remotely are not left behind.

“If children are faced with another year of school closures, the effects will be felt for generations to come.”

Media contacts

Georgina Thompson
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 238 1559
Email: gthompson@unicef.org

Humanitarian News

Global Fund signs a record-breaking $8.54 billion in grants to fight HIV, TB and malaria

Global Fund signs a record-breaking $8.54 billion in grants to fight HIV, TB and malaria

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Source: Global Fund
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GENEVA – In 2020, the Global Fund signed 157 grants for a total of US$8.54 billion for lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs and to strengthen systems for health. This is the highest amount of grants ever signed in a single year by the Global Fund. The grants will begin implementation this month.

“This is an exceptional achievement that will help more than 100 countries continue the critical fight against HIV, TB and malaria – epidemics that kill more than 2.3 million people every year,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “As the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelms health systems around the world, it is now more important than ever that we ensure countries have the resources they need to fight HIV, TB and malaria and to strengthen the systems for health needed to respond to all four diseases.”

The Global Fund has a total of US$12.71 billion available in funding allocations for the three-year funding cycle that runs from 2020-2022. Of these funds, the Global Fund had planned for US$8.9 billion in grants to be approved in 2020, with the remaining funds scheduled for later start dates. However, the Secretariat accelerated its grant-making efforts and exceeded the original target, approving US$9.2 billion of funding in 2020. As of 31 December 2020, US$8.54 of the approved grants had been signed and begin implementation this month; two countries were still in the process of signing the remaining finalized grants worth US$660 million.

“Even in the midst of a new global pandemic, during an extraordinarily challenging year, the Global Fund partnership has supported countries to develop grants more quickly and effectively than ever before,” said Donald Kaberuka, Global Fund Board Chair. “A record-breaking 67% of grants for the 2020-2022 funding cycle have now been signed, compared to 50% of grants signed at the same time in the last funding cycle, representing a remarkable increase in performance.”

In comparison, at the same time in the 2017-2019 funding cycle, the Global Fund had signed US$5.2 billion in grants out of a US$10.3 billion funding allocation.

Over the past year, the Global Fund has supported implementing partners and Country Coordinating Mechanisms (the committee of local community, government and health experts that develop and guide Global Fund-supported programs in a country) to develop detailed funding requests for programs to respond to the epidemics at the country level. As part of the Global Fund’s grant-making process, all funding requests are reviewed by an independent Technical Review Panel and then by the Grant Approvals Committee for quality and comprehensiveness before going to the Global Fund Board for final approval. Once the Global Fund and the implementing partners sign the grant, implementation of programs can begin.

The Global Fund is extremely appreciative of the continued support of donors for its core funding, as pledges made at the record-breaking Replenishment Conference in Lyon in October 2019 are converted into cash contributions. Sustaining funding levels for the fight against HIV, TB and malaria is vital at a moment when disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to reverse many years of progress against the three diseases.

On top of the new grants awarded to fight HIV, TB and malaria, the Global Fund has approved US$980 million in additional funding to 106 low- and middle-income countries and 14 multicountry programs to respond to COVID-19 in 2020. The Global Fund has estimated that it needs a further US$5 billion on top of its core funding to support countries in responding to the pandemic by reinforcing national COVID-19 responses; mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs; and making urgent improvements to health and community systems.

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