Transportation challenges for children to report and seek services, in addition to inaccessibility of health services due to strikes or infection of health-care staff, are resulting in survivors of violence failing to access post rape care in health facilities, and Child Protection partners need to contact private doctors to receive care for clients.
Quarantine measures have placed new stressors on parents and caregivers as a result of children’s prolonged stay at home due to school closure and loss of livelihood due to COVID-19-induced economic challenges.
Feedback meetings with Bulawayo, Epworth and Bulilima mentors indicated that the main child protection concerns in these districts were sexual abuse, child neglect, and emotional and physical abuse. In Mazoe, children in late primary and secondary schools are victims of sexual abuse by illegal miners resulting in unintended and unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
There is a need for advocacy for waiver of access fees for children, adolescents and young mothers when accessing antiretroviral medication.
The festive season brought an influx of returnees, cases of violence against children continued to increase at points of entry especially Beitbridge border post. There is need to scale up protection services at point of entries as well as needs for unaccompanied minors, lactating mothers and support decentralization of child protection services.
Schools were opened briefly for exam classes and there were reports of protection violations including violence against children (VAC); there are gaps in schools to address
psychosocial support (PSS) needs.
Children who are struggling with the impact of COVID-19 deaths of teachers, parents and care givers need mental health support.
There is need for advocacy for speedy finalization of cases through the justice system as rape cases are prolonged.
There is limited space to accommodate returnees from South Africa at Beitbridge quarantine, such that issues of social distancing become less applicable when the centre is at full capacity, hence COVID-19 awareness needs to be ongoing at the centre.
In October, November and December 2020, UNICEF working with nine civil society organizations (CSOs) continued to provide community-based psycho-social support (PSS) targeting vulnerable communities. A total of 12,619 vulnerable children (7,015 female, 5,604 male), including 1,939 children with disabilities, were reached with community-based PSS interventions including at child safe spaces, bringing a cumulative reach of 91,969 children (52,754 female, 39,215 male), including 15,826 children with disabilities.
Through a partnership with Child Protection Society, UNICEF continued to support family tracing and reuniﬁcation (FTR) of separated and unaccompanied children. A total of 37 children (18 female and 19 males) were reuniﬁed with their families or placed in alternative care arrangements, after living and working on the street. Cumulatively, a total of 943 (365 females and 608 males) have been provided with FTR services.
The sub-cluster also continued to rump-up delivery of case management services- supporting survivors’ violence. A total of 269 children were reached with response services. Cumulatively, 7,225 children (6,231 female, 994 male), including 160 children living with disabilities have received response services through the National Case Management System (NCMS). UNICEF continued to support safe and conﬁdential reporting of SGBV through the adult helpline.
To address the challenges that parents and caregivers are facing during COVID-19, four radio programmes which were part of the "Live Well: Parenting in COVID-19 Series" were aired on SKYZMETRO FM at 11:30 a.m. The radio sessions aimed at dissemination of positive parenting messaging to foster child protection and resilience in the face of COVID-19 which included interactive sessions with live call-ins and WhatsApp messaging. During the reporting period, the CP cluster rolled out four drama sessions per week, two on SkyzMetro (estimated 500,000 listeners), one on National FM (698,000 listeners) and one on Radio Zimbabwe (2,500,000 listeners).
Child Protection partners continued to work towards ensuring that services were accessible to their clients despite the challenges including: hiring minivans that were used to transport survivors of violence to ensure they have access to post rape care and for ongoing capacity building initiatives where training participants were provided with transportation in areas where public transport was not available.
Increase in airtime for staff for continued provision of psychosocial support, remote follow ups and facilitation of case referrals and procurement of PPE.
The sub-cluster with leadership from Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare carried out risk assessments in evacuation centers and provided identification documentation, tracing and repatriation (PSS), and case management services to children affected by Tropical Storm Chalane in Chimanimani and Chipinge.
In December, the sub-cluster supported development and launch of the national PSS guidelines. REPSSI in collaboration with Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW, Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (MoJLPA), Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), National AIDS Council (NAC) launch the national PSS guidelines. The guidelines are meant to set a standard for PSS service provision for children and monitoring.
There is a lack of COVID-19-related information in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, especially for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the blind or partially blind people.
Service delivery is challenged by the lack of adequate PPE. Taking into consideration that CP services cannot always be delivered at 1.5 metres distance, surgical masks and gowns are needed for ﬁrst line responders. There is increased anxiety among staff for fear of infection.
Quarantine facilities, residential care centres and other places of safety where children who were previously living on the streets and children returning from Botswana and South Africa have been placed, lack the bare minimum of basic services to maintain adequate personal hygiene, recreation and services to care for them. In addition, there is a lack of non-food items with especiﬁc items to cater for the needs of infants in support of mothers with children under age 2 in quarantine facilities.
Child Protection has only received 13 per cent funding of the total US$12.8 million that was required under the HRP and the COVID-19 Addendum. Without this funding, partners continue to face challenges in ensuring the mental health and well-being of all frontline workers. This includes access mental health and psychosocial care, provision of recreational materials for use by children in quarantine facilities, addressing stigma, additional vehicles to facilitate the movement of clients and procurement of adequate PPE to ensure COVID-19 prevention measures are adhered to when conducting home visits for critical cases that cannot be followed up remotely. While partners acknowledge the need to ﬁll this gap, the lack of resources remained a limiting factor during the year.
Service delivery for Child Protection is challenged in lockdown setting, community cadres are not able to do home visits and virtual case management cannot reach the marginalized children.