577 children orphaned during COVID-19 second wave, says government
As many as 577 children have been orphaned in India since the second wave of COVID-19 hit the nation, government data showed. The Ministry of Women and Child Development started looking into children orphaned due to COVID-19 after messages calling for their adoption flooded social media. The Ministry said it is committed to supporting every child who lost both parents to the viral disease.
'577 kids orphaned between April 1-May 25'
In a tweet on Tuesday, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani wrote, "From 1st April 2021 till 2:00 PM today, the State Governments & UTs (Union Territories) across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to COVID-19." "GOI (Government of India) is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to COVID-19."
States asked to identify COVID-19 orphans
The Ministry had asked states to identify COVID-19 orphans from their districts. It did not share a state-wise distribution of such cases but said that Delhi had one COVID-19 orphan during the concerned period and some states did not report even one case.
'Allotted Rs. 10 lakh/district for non-institutional care of orphans'
A senior official told The Indian Express, "We have allotted Rs. 10 lakh per district for the non-institutional care of these orphans, which will be distributed by District Magistrates under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme." The official said, "Our priority, however, is that the children be retained in their family and community structures and not plucked from these set-ups."
States have announced welfare schemes for orphans
Delhi, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh are among the states where children orphaned due to COVID-19 have been promised financial assistance and free education. Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh have also announced various welfare schemes for the orphans. Officials told TIE that several measures have been undertaken to track such cases, including welfare committees in districts and SAMVAD (a program for integrated child/adolescent psychosocial care).
Government raised concerns about trafficking of orphans
Earlier on May 17, the Ministry had raised concerns about child trafficking when referring to messages on social media regarding the adoption of COVID-19 orphans. It had said then that all such messages had been found to be fake and investigations into them had been launched. The Ministry had asked states to monitor such instances and urged people to use the child helpline 1098.