This year, we are commemorating the International Day of Peace as a raging global pandemic spreads. COVID-19 has affected the schooling of 1.5 billion children, pushed 86 million into begging and child labour, and by the end of 2020, will have driven 117 million more children into poverty.
While 1 billion children were experiencing some form of violence before COVID-19, today, more children are exposed to more violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation, that has mostly moved online. Many others are being radicalized into violent extremism and gangs. The stress and economic pressure on parents and caregivers is immense. It has led to increased physical and psychological violence against children.
This year’s theme for the International Day of Peace “Shaping Peace Together,” rallies us to share compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic. The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) has been at the forefront in mobilizing faith leaders and communities to put children at the centre of actions addressing the pandemic.
Around the world, members of the GNRC have been at the forefront in creating awareness about COVID-19, sharing knowledge and information and providing material, spiritual, emotional and psychological support to children and vulnerable communities.
Today, on this day of peace, we pay tribute to the thousands of GNRC members who have worked to ensure meaningful participation of children in addressing issues affecting them during the pandemic.
We celebrate the 20 years of service to children, and will continue to mobilize faith leaders, communities and partners to act, towards a better, peaceful and just world for the children.
Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali,
Secretary General, Global Network of Religions for Children, and
Director, Arigatou International — Nairobi.