The economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic may push some 86 million children into poverty this year, bringing the world total to 672 million, UNICEF and Save the Children warned on Wednesday, calling on governments for social protection measures. to avoid it.

According to a report published by the UN agency for children and the British NGO, the greatest increase in poverty will be seen in countries in Europe and Central Asia, with an increase of up to 44%, while in the Latin American region and the Caribbean, the increase is estimated at 22%.

“The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unprecedented socio-economic crisis that is depleting resources for families worldwide,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

According to Fore, the size of this crisis threatens to undo years of progress in reducing child poverty and leave families with fewer resources at a level of deprivation “not seen in decades.”

The report warns that the impact of the measures to combat the pandemic is already noticeable with an immediate loss of income that makes many families have trouble assuming basic expenses, but also warns of the danger that, in the longer term, the measures of fiscal consolidation can reduce the public services on which many children depend.

According to Save the Children, the youngest are very vulnerable to periods of hunger or malnutrition, even if they are very short, as they can leave them with consequences for life.

“If we act now and decisively, we can prevent and contain the threat of the pandemic on the poorest countries and some of the most vulnerable children,” said the CEO of the NGO, Inger Ashing.

Thus, UNICEF and Save the Children demand a great expansion of social protection systems and programs, including direct financial aid to families, food in schools and other measures.

In addition, they call for policies that support families such as universal access to quality health care, childcare or paid childcare.