A joint press release on March 19 said although children face less health risks from Covid-19 than adults, there have been global reports that they may be at greater risk of violence as a result of the pandemic.
Movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety increase the likelihood that children may experience and observe physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home, it explained.
“In response, the government of Japan and UNICEF Cambodia are launching a new project, Prevention and Response to Violence Against Children in Cambodia during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Recovery.
“The government of Japan has award 340,000,000 yen (approximately $3,090,909) to UNICEF to fund the project,” the press release said.
UNICEF Representative to Cambodia Foroogh Foyouzat said any form of violence a child was exposed to can lead to grave and lifelong consequences and that UNICEF were deeply concerned that children could be at greater risk of violence and abuse during this difficult period.
“We are grateful to the Government of Japan for stepping in with this very important and timely contribution. This project aims to strengthen child protection system and services and contributes to the realisation of Cambodian children’s right to grow in a safe and protective environment,” said Foyouzat.
Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Mikami Masahiro said childhood violence could harm children in multiple ways that last throughout their lives. Violence suffered in childhood often leads to a broad range of negative behavioural, psychological and physical consequences in adolescence and adulthood, which was also a challenge for economic development.
“UNICEF has been active in Cambodia since 1952 and has outstanding experience in working to end violence against children. This is why the government of Japan considers UNICEF to be the most trusted partner to achieve this goal,” said Mikami.
“The government of Japan and UNICEF are deeply committed to working with the Cambodian government to end violence against children and will continue until we have helped create a world where no child is left behind.
“We will continue to cooperate with the Cambodian government to help the country recover from Covid-19,” he said.
According to the press release, the project’s objective is to ensure that Cambodian children are protected from violence, exploitation and abuse throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and during the period of recovery, thereby increasing human security.
One example of how the aid will be spent is that support for help lines and hotlines will be increased to provide a safe and accessible channel for children and adults to report violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse.
The goal, it said, is to support the Cambodian government in creating a well-coordinated and sustainable child protection system to respond to issues that have been exacerbated by Covid-19 in collaboration with civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders.