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What Real Pandemic Aid Would Look Like

Around the world, civil-society groups and ordinary people are doing what they can to prevent the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations – particularly children – from suffering the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rich-country governments must show the same level of compassion.

NEW DELHI – In the space of just a few months, COVID-19 has changed our world beyond recognition. Wherever one lives, one feels a palpable sense of fear. Yet we do not all respond to fear in the same way. Though we all instinctively want to protect our loved ones, in a deeply unequal world, not all of us have the means to do so.

Among the most painful consequences of the pandemic is that it has or will hit the world’s most vulnerable children and their families the hardest, driving many households that had escaped poverty over the past two decades back into destitution. Child laborers, out-of-school children, and young people fleeing conflict or disaster are particularly at risk.

Many of these children and their families live in informal settlements, in conditions that make social distancing and self-isolation impossible. Many also have underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19. And many lack regular access to basic services like drinking water and electricity, while lockdowns have ended vital school-based meal programs. Worst of all, many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people do not have reliable access to sanitation, let alone health care.