Reporting Period: 1 April – 30 June 2021
The number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 in East Asia and the Pacific have risen sharply over the past three months. In total, 6,210,531 positive cases and 119,440 deaths have been confirmed in the region, with Indonesia (2,379,397 cases) and the Philippines (1,445,832 cases) being the most affected.
Countries across the region are racing to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19, however the speed of transmission by COVID-19 variants is outpacing the rate of vaccination in many countries.
The pandemic is also exacerbating risks to child protection, with increases in online child sexual abuse and exploitation and reports of child marriage in the region.
UNICEF has supported 4 million women, girls and boys in accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions.
UNICEF has also supported 134,179 schools to implement safe school protocols and 31 million children with access to formal or non-formal education, including early learning.
Situation in Numbers
6,210,531 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 119,440 deaths
500,000 additional children have SAM due to COVID-19
6.9 million children are not immunized against measles
369 million people lack access to basic hygiene services
144 million children/adolescents lack access to education
Regional Funding Overview
In 2021, UNICEF appeals for US$117.2 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children, adolescents and women affected by emergencies, including chronic, protracted humanitarian situations as well as UNICEF’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region. So far, a total of US$ 45.2 million1 has been received against the 2021 EAP HAC (including 32.7 million carried-over from 2020 and 12.5 million received in 2021) from donors, including the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, China, the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, CERF, the Global Partnership for Education, Gavi, the Solidarity Fund, United Nations Office for South South Cooperation, several private donors and UNICEF committees in Australia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and USA. UNICEF is currently in discussion with several public and private donors to raise funding for the US$ 72 million shortfall for the East Asia and Pacific regional response. UNICEF acknowledges the generous contribution of donors including private sectors supporting this joint effort to respond and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies in the EAP region. Please refer to Annex B and Annex C for more detailed information on funding per functional area and country.
In addition, UNICEF has also received US$ 70.3 million for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in East Asia and Pacific in response to the Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) / COVAX appeal. The ACT-A / COVAX HAC appeal which was launched and is managed globally complements the EAP Regional HAC appeal by supporting country readiness for COVID-19 vaccine roll out, together with WHO and Gavi, while supporting the strengthening of health systems. This includes providing commodities needed for safe vaccine administration, such as cold chain equipment, personal protective equipment, and hand hygiene (soap and hand sanitizer), operational costs for vaccine delivery and associated technical assistance. Crucially, this also includes support for vaccine delivery to humanitarian populations. The seven support areas are in alignment with the categories of National Deployment and Vaccination Plans and include: planning and coordination, prioritization and targeting, service delivery, training, monitoring and evaluation, vaccine cold-chain and logistics, communication and community engagement. Funding and results from the ACT-A / COVAX HAC appeal are reported through a separate global ACTA situation report.
Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 in EAP have risen sharply over the past three months. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 6,210,531 positive cases and 119,440 deaths have been confirmed in the region, with Indonesia (2,379,397 cases) and the Philippines (1,445,832 cases) being the most affected. Countries across the region are racing to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19, however the speed of transmission by COVID-19 variants is outpacing the rate of vaccination in many countries. A combined approach of supporting vaccine roll-out while continuing to focus on efforts to contain the spread of the virus and respond to the social-economic impacts of the pandemic is needed in order to save lives and alleviate suffering, especially for children.
Due to the increasing cases of COVID-19, many EAP countries reclosed some or all of their schools between the beginning of April and the end of June. All schools closed in Cambodia, Fiji, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia and Thailand affecting 26 million children (Cambodia: 2.8m, Fiji: 0.2m, Lao PDR: 1.7m, Malaysia: 6.7m, Mongolia: 0.7m, Thailand: 13.9m). Schools were able to partially reopen in Thailand in areas less affected by the new wave of COVID-19 (nonMaximum Controlled Areas). Schools in the Philippines (hosting 24.9m children) have remained closed since the end of March 2020, making it one of the last countries globally with schools continuously closed for face-to-face learning. Schools in Indonesia (hosting 62.3m children) are officially permitted to reopen pending meeting safety requirements, but UNICEF data show that the majority of schools remain closed for face-to-face learning. Schools in Myanmar (hosting 9.5m children) have officially reopened, but enrolment and attendance are reportedly very low in the face of a rising number of COVID-19 cases as well as the security and political crisis.
During school closures, UNICEF continues to support the continuity of learning through multiple modes of distance learning including through the establishment of online platforms, the dissemination of TV and radio programmes and the distribution of print materials. UNICEF is also supporting teachers and parents in the facilitation of learning-at-home activities. In many countries where schools reopened (fully or partially) reports indicate many children not enrolling (e.g. Indonesia, Thailand) or not attending schools upon reopening (e.g. Malaysia). These problems are expected to increase the longer school closures last. Many countries (e.g. Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Thailand) across the region have started to vaccinate teachers as a priority group in an effort to facilitate the reopening of schools. Some countries (e.g. Mongolia) across the region are also considering or are already vaccinating school children.
The pandemic is also exacerbating risks to child protection. New evidence from Cambodia indicates an increase in online child sexual abuse and exploitation in the first quarter of 2021. The NGO APL, a UNICEF Cambodia partner, has received reports of 30 cases of online child exploitation so far this year, including instances of sharing of child sexual abuse materials. The rate of such reports received by APL has doubled in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to 2020, when APL received 65 such reports over the course of the entire year. The increasing prevalence of child sexual abuse materials originating in the Philippines was also highlighted. According to the Philippine Justice Department, 1.29 million explicit videos and photos of children were posted online in 2020, a threefold increase from 2019. In Indonesia, the increasing rate of child marriage during COVID-19 was highlighted. During 2020, 64,000 girls were married, more than double the rate in 2019.
Meanwhile, the adverse socio-economic impact of the pandemic continues to drive millions of children into extreme destitution and livelihood insecurity. An estimated 6.2 million children in EAP are affected by wasting, with 1.7 million of these being severely wasted. Child wasting is likely to be most impacted by COVID-19 in the short term, with an estimated 500,000 children becoming wasted due to health and nutrition service delivery disruptions and negative economic impacts of the pandemic.
The pandemic is also exacerbating the vulnerability of families to natural hazards, such as typhoons and floods, and protracted humanitarian situations due to unresolved conflict and political instability. In Timor-Leste, heavy rains from 29 March to 4 April resulted in flash floods and landslides affecting all 13 municipalities to varying degrees, with the capital Dili and the surrounding low-lying areas the worst affected. The floods, which took place in the context of rising COVID-19 cases in Timor-Leste, caused 48 fatalities and affected 30,367 households across the country. Of those, 81% (24,674 households) are in Dili municipality. In April 2021, UNICEF identified the need for US$ 2,060,000 to sustain provision of life-saving and immediate essential services for women and children and support early recovery in TimorLeste. With US$ 900,000 received, UNICEF and partners have been supporting the government led response, however, more resources are urgently needed to respond to humanitarian needs in the different sectors and throughout the country, in line with the recently issued Joint Appeal & Flood Response Plan of the government and humanitarian partners. Further details can be found in the latest Timor-Leste floods situation report.
Myanmar has fallen deeper into a situation of armed conflict and targeted violence, exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities and pushing a growing number of children into situation of humanitarian needs. As of 24 June, an estimated 177,500 people, including 103,500 people in Kayah state have been displaced in south-eastern parts of Myanmar. Armed clashes between Chinland Defence Forces and Myanmar Armed Forces in Chin state resulted in more than 20,000 people displaced in more than 100 displacement sites in Chin State, Magway, and Sagaing regions. A total of 11,650 people have been internally displaced in Kachin state: more than 10,200 of them remain displaced (OCHA). On 28 June, UNHCR published an overview map for displacement with the number of internally displaced persons (IDP) since February 2021. Further details on the situation in Myanmar and UNICEF’s response can be found in a separate situation report dedicated to the Myanmar 2021 HAC appeal.