Hyderabad: Around 226 kids have lost both parents due to the COVID­19 in the two Telugu-speaking states.

Around 123 children in Telangana lost both parents to COVID 19 since March 2020. Likewise, 103 kids lost their parents in Andhra Pradesh due to the pandemic.

According to Bal Swaraj, an online tracking portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), 13 kids have lost at least one parent in Andhra Pradesh.

Nearly 9346 children in the country are in immediate need of care and protection. Around 7464 kids have lost at least one parent, while 1742 have lost both during the pandemic. Around 140 kids have been abandoned by the parents.

Of the total orphans, 4860 are boys and the rest are girls. Around 3711 orphans are in the age group of 8 to 13 years. 1712 orphans are in the age group of 16 and 17. Around 1620 kids are in the age group of 14 and 15. Nearly 1515 orphans are in the age group of 4 to 7. 788 are in the zero to 3 years group.

NCPCR said each child who has been orphaned or has lost one parent to COVID-19 may not have any financial support.

Therefore, every such child affected by COVID-19 and found to be in distress must be produced before the concerned Child Welfare Committee under Section 31 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, it said.

The Commission said 'Bal Swaraj' is being used to collect data of such children.

NCPCR informed the Supreme Court that these children ran a high risk of being pushed into trafficking and flesh trade.

"The Commission has laid out specific recommendations at Source, Transit and Destination Hotspots, which outlines basic indicators for the identification of vulnerable families and children at risk of trafficking at the village/urban habitation level and provided with a safety mesh at the family level. The Commission has also observed that providing benefits of various welfare schemes to the vulnerable family shall reduce the risk of a child getting trafficked," submitted NCPCR in the Supreme Court.

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose took suo motu notice of the children who have suffered a personal loss due to the pandemic.

Advocate Gaurav Agrawal, the amicus curiae in the case said that the cataclysmic COVID­19 pandemic devastated the vulnerable sections of society. "There are a number of children who have become orphans due to the demise of either the breadwinner of the family or of both their parents," he said.

On May 28, the bench directed the Centre to inform them what welfare measures have been taken for the children orphaned by the pandemic.

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