Everyone knows Greta Thunberg as the young Swedish environmental activist. Thunberg started her work of raising awareness about the effects of climate change when she was 15 years old, and she has now become the face of the environmental movement. However, Greta Thunberg recently started a humanitarian campaign. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Thunberg partnered with the Danish nonprofit, Human Act, to support the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This nonprofit works to provide protection for vulnerable children.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease that disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. It is widely believed that elderly populations are the most at-risk for COVID-19, as the elderly are more likely to have weakened immune systems and underlying health conditions. However, Greta Thunberg argues that the coronavirus is a “children’s rights crisis” as children can also contract and spread the disease, and they will continue to experience the effects of the pandemic long into their futures. Therefore, UNICEF is focusing its relief efforts on children impacted by COVID-19, specifically impoverished and underprivileged children who lack adequate opportunities and resources to survive the pandemic.
Greta Thunberg donated $100,000 to a new humanitarian campaign created by UNICEF called “Let’s move humanity for children in the fight against coronavirus.” On April 22, the Danish nonprofit Human Act awarded Greta Thunberg with $100,000 for her climate activism efforts; however, the donation was redirected to help launch the campaign. It will focus on supporting at-risk children in all 190 countries that UNICEF works in.
5 Ways the UNICEF Campaign is Supporting Children
- UNICEF is using Thunberg’s and Human Act’s donations to supply critical resources to children. Forty percent of the world’s population does not have access to soap and running water for handwashing. Therefore, UNICEF is dedicating the donated money to distributing masks, soap, sanitizer, gloves and hygiene kits to children who need it. Along with providing essential resources, UNICEF is trying to educate children around the world about proper sanitation techniques such as handwashing with soap.
- The campaign advocates for improved emergency care for children. For instance, UNICEF will support all governments that provide personal protective equipment for their healthcare workers. Additionally, UNICEF has donated thousands of test kits and other health supplies (such as necessary vaccines for children) in dozens of countries including Venezuela, Nigeria, Italy and China.
- The campaign encourages distance learning for children who do not have access to school. Since the pandemic has closed most schools around the world, millions of kids have lost the opportunity to learn due to a lack of digital resources. UNICEF is working to provide low-income children with educational resources so they can continue learning. For example, UNICEF helped devise guidelines for homeschooling in Indonesia.
- UNICEF is dedicated to providing psychological support for at-risk children. The global pandemic has greatly elevated stress levels in all countries. However, children are more prone to stress because they do not have the same mental development and coping skills that adults do. This stress has significant impacts on healthy development. It could cause children to fall behind in schooling, and it increases xenophobia and discrimination. Additionally, children living in financially unstable households with limited movement during the pandemic are more susceptible to domestic violence and abuse. Therefore, UNICEF is providing psychosocial and mental health support to combat the detrimental effects of COVID-19.
- The new campaign places special importance on protecting refugee children, migrant children and children affected by conflict. Children of these demographics already experience a lack of adequate healthcare and poor living conditions due to their low societal standing. Consequently, these children are much more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 since they do not have the resources nor space to socially distance. UNICEF began working with more refugee and migrant populations in order to provide support for these children experiencing multiple forms of vulnerabilities. Additionally, UNICEF is working with governments and authorities to ensure that the COVID-19 response and recovery plan includes important child protection measures.
Greta Thunberg is using her platform as a world-famous environmentalist to spread awareness about children’s plight and stand in solidarity with impoverished children during this desperate time. By taking advantage of her large following, Thunberg has been able to communicate the important message that the virus will continue to impact our children long into their futures, so it is imperative to start supporting them today. Additionally, Thunberg’s leadership efforts inspire children around the world to take a stand and advocate for policies that support them. Thunberg, Human Act and UNICEF encourage everyone who has the protection and resources to safely continue their lives during the pandemic and to donate to the campaign to help protect children who do not have the same chance of survival.
– Ashley Bond