It is estimated that more than 82 000 South African children have been orphaned due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a further 94 000 children lost their primary caregiver, a recent report found. Save the Children SA’s Divya Naidoo explained that this could be either a parent or grandparent. She believes that this will have a long lasting impact on these children.
The report titled ‘Global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers: a modelling study’ estimated that more than a million children around the world have lost their at least one primary or secondary caregiver between 1 March 2020 and 30 April 2021. This estimates that a child around the world loses a caregiver every 12 seconds. The report also estimates that 1 in every 200 South African children have lost a caregiver.
Naidoo says the implications of this are far reaching with children often being left to fend for themselves. She warned “children could end up dropping out of school because suddenly they don't have somebody to care for them, they don't have the means to get to school and nobody is watching over what they are doing”.
“Then there's also disruption in their own lives where they are being moved from to maybe go and live with another family and so it's let's just give up this year of school. We'll decide next year but the other risks as you're saying where we don't count that and we don't see the numbers sometimes could end up where these children end up going into very risky behavior and taking up prostituion” added Naidoo
Naidoo warned that children could fall victim to opportunists who offer to look after them and give them places to stay only to end up taken advantage of. Naidoo has called on community members to alert and ensure that children are safe and are not taken advantage of.
The report said “Orphanhood and caregiver deaths are a hidden pandemic resulting from COVID-19-associated deaths. Accelerating equitable vaccine delivery is key to prevention. Psychosocial and economic support can help families to nurture children bereft of caregivers and help to ensure that institutionalisation is avoided”.