The future of children who are becoming orphans due to COVID-19 is turning out to be a major challenge for states across India.
Though many states have offered support like financial aid and free rations for COVID-19 orphans, keeping them safe from the hands of human traffickers is going to be a big challenge in the coming days.
Keeping this in mind, the Department of Women Development and Child Welfare in Telangana has decided to give them mobile phones containing all the necessary numbers including that of the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) as well as helpline and emergency numbers.
“Help just a click away”
“By providing these mobile phones to orphaned children, they can find help just a click away and can contact any of the officers, numbers of whom have been saved in the phone’s contact list. We have also counselled children on whom to contact and when to contact a concerned officer,” T Akkeshwar Rao, District Welfare Officer (DWO) of Hyderabad told ANI.
Rao mentioned that in Hyderabad district alone, 10 children were rendered completely orphaned as their parents succumbed to COVID-19 and 75 children have lost their parents because of some other reasons during the pandemic.
Apart from these 85 children, there are 138 children in Hyderabad district alone, who lost their single parent (either mother or father) to COVID-19.
He said that these children, who count over 200, have been given monthly ration kits in collaboration with an NGO as an immediate relief.
If a child has been orphaned but has a guardian, then such child is sent to the guardian.
“Each family is being given a mobile phone, whom they can contact in case of any need for help. They are also being provided with monthly ration kits,” said Rao.
The DWO said that if a child is orphaned and has no guardian to look after, then those children are shifted to the 57 child homes across the city where all the needs and cares of that children will be looked after by the department.
Earlier this week, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had informed the Supreme Court that as many as 30,071 children were orphaned, lost a parent or abandoned mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maharashtra has been worst affected with 7,084 children being orphaned, abandoned or have lost a parent mostly to the deadly virus since April 1 last year.
Other states where children are most affected include Uttar Pradesh (3,172), Rajasthan (2,482), Haryana (2,438), Madhya Pradesh (2,243), Andhra Pradesh (2,089), Kerala (2,002), Bihar (1,634) and Odisha (1,073).