Churches are being called to play their part in the growing crisis of more than seven million children who were orphaned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) together with World Without Orphans (WWO) are calling on churches to help.
This week the pandemic reached its second anniversary and a recently published report estimated that globally more than seven million children have lost a parent or caregiver due to COVID-19.
The report known as the ‘Lancet Child & Adolescent Health modelling report’ is based on studies by a number of national and international government agencies, universities, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and non-governmental organizations, including WWO.
Dr. Susan Hillis, who served as lead author of the study as part of her role with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is also a member of WWO’s leadership team said: “We estimate that for every person reported to have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one child is left orphaned or loses a caregiver.
“That is the equivalent of one child every six seconds facing a heightened risk of lifelong adversity unless given appropriate support in time.
“Orphanhood does not come in waves; it is a steadily rising slope, whose summit is still out of sight.”
Dr Hillis is calling for national COVID-19 response plans to support orphaned children through a three-pronged approach focusing on preventing the death of caregivers, preparing families that are safe and nurturing to support affected children through kinship care, foster care and adoption, and employing strategies to protect children from the risks of poverty, childhood adversity and violence.
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Goropevsek who serves as Coordinator of (WEA)’s Children Network and is member of (WWO)’s Global Council said: “We encourage church leaders to read the report and prayerfully consider how the pandemic has affected families and children in their own context and what support they can offer.
“They can raise awareness on this issue and mobilize their congregations to reach out and proactively offer help.”