As India battles a raging second wave, cases of children losing their parents to Covid-19 are also mounting. While some have lost both their parents and have no one to look after them.
According to the sources of TOI in the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the orphaned children have been identified by the state governments and are receiving support from the ministry and district authorities.
The official noted that the number has been revealed to end the speculation that lakhs of children lost their parents to Covid.
“The number is being put out to put an end to fear mongering that lakhs of children have been orphaned in the pandemic. This means these children are not abandoned and are under watch and protection,” he said, as quoted by TOI.
With an unprecedented rise in Covid fatalities across the country, during the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, several children have been orphaned with entire families being wiped out. As a result, in the past few weeks, several social media messages are also doing the rounds for the adoption of these ‘Covid orphans’. Government of India is fully against these posts as they expose orphaned and traumatised children to illegal adoption or worse, child trafficking and child labour.
In order to make the adoption process smoother, the Ministry of Women and Children Development (MoWCD) had also earlier told the health ministry that parents infected with Covid-19 who are being admitted to hospitals should declare in a form who their children should be handed over to if they die.
WCD Ministry is putting extra efforts towards Covid Orphaned Children
The ministry officials further stated that they were constantly in touch with the state governments to ensure that no child, who has been orphaned by Covid, is unidentified or slips out of the system. This is why the Centre, state and district administrations are working together to ensure all orphans are identified and rehabilitated, they added.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), the apex centre of mental health in the country, will also provide counselling to these children.
Each district will also receive Rs 10 lakh to provide non-institutional care to children orphaned due to Covid-19. The district authorities will take a call on how to use this money to rehabilitate these children — whether it is with counselling or any other form of assistance.
The ministry is also working with state governments to check fake messages doing the rounds on social media, supposedly seeking support for ‘Covid orphans’. The ministry has asked state governments to ensure that police take some serious action against those who are in such cases.