“In a year in which we should be looking forward, we are going backward,” Ms. Fore said. She called the pandemic “the biggest threat to progress for children in our 75-year history.”

UNICEF, perhaps the most recognized arm of the United Nations, is commemorating its birthday with the most sobering of messages: The pandemic is the worst threat to gains made for children since the agency was created to help them 75 years ago, The New York Times reports.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, as UNICEF is formally known, said in a report released Wednesday evening that because of the coronavirus, the number of children who are hungry, out of school, abused, impoverished and forced into marriage is rising. At the same time, the number with access to health care, vaccines, enough food and essential services is falling.

Even in the best-case projection, the report said, it would take seven to eight years just to return to pre-Covid poverty levels for children.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, said in the report that the basic improvements in children’s lives accomplished since the agency’s formation in the ashes of World War II “are now at risk” from the ravages of Covid-19.

The report cites, for example, evidence that 100 million children have fallen into poverty since the pandemic began, more than 23 million missed getting basic vaccines, and more than eight million have been forced into labor.

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