Tirana, October 3, 2020 - The pandemic that swept the world this year, will have a major negative impact on the economy of all countries. Albania is no exception in this regard. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Albania ranks first in the Western Balkans for the expected economic downturn, expected to be above 9%, because a large part of the citizens live on the remittances of Albanian emigrants, who live and work abroad.
According to the rating agency Standard & Poor, Albania is ranked among the top 15 countries whose economy will be severely damaged by COVID-19. The IMF has stated that the economy is expected to shrink by 7.5 percent during 2020. Not further then yesterday, data from the Albanian Institute of Statistics showed that the economy had contracted by 10% during the closing period of the pandemic, compared to the same period of last year.
The economic downturn will affect all Albanian citizens, but the most at risk are those who live below or very close to the poverty line. The World Bank, despite identifying some positive developments for the Albanian economy (pre-Covid19), again stressed that absolute and relative poverty continued to affect almost 40 percent of the population in Albania.
Children are the ones who are affected first and foremost in times of crisis! The economic downturn, whatever the figures, has an immediate impact on the rising cost of living for children while the families are unable to cover such costs. National poverty eradication programs in Albania are almost non-existent.
Although the Government approved several successive plans to keep small businesses afloat and pay the "war" salary, so far it has neither planned nor provided any funding for the poorest, especially children, adolescents, and single parents. The government did not plan and probably won’t plan any funding for the winter of 2020 and for the whole of 2021, for additional social services, programs for free food for poor, vouchers for the purchase of basic food etc.
All these shortcomings make us believe that Albania must prepare during this winter and throughout 2021 for the increase of the number of malnourished children, of children who will sit on school benches without eating a warm meal and without having a new mask every day; of children abandoned in orphanages because their parents won’t have food to feed them; of children with respiratory diseases or other health problems, because they do not have heating in the house or because they live in misery; of children and adolescents who are sexually exploited or trafficked inside and outside the country, or of increased children and youth crime because there are no support programs for social and community services for children, young people or single parents.
Given this situation, CRCA/ECPAT Albania calls on the Government, the Parliament, political parties, all the Mayors in Albania, to urgently take all the necessary measures to protect children, by urgently increasing investments for them.
Albania urgently needs to increase investment for the education of children and adolescents. The Ministry of Education stated that 10,000 children failed to attend the previous school year and distance learning. We need to worry that this numbers will continue to rise if there are no investments made for their education.
Over 20% of children in Albania, live in extreme poverty and receive a minimum support that is not enough for food, clothing or to protect from covid All these children, if we don’t invest today for them, risk becoming the next generation of hungry and malnourished human beings.
Invest in children before it's too late!