In Samarinda, East Kalimantan, June 10, 2021, was the saddest day for the Mansyur family, as Dila, Manda and Ade lost their parents, Mansyur and his wife, who both died of COVID-19 at a hospital in less than 24 hours. Their father was buried at 1:00 p.m. local time, and in the evening, their mother also passed away.
In East Java Province, 5,082 children lost their parents to the virus, according to Andriyanto, head of the local women's empowerment and child protection office on August 3.
"Those children will be counseled by psychologists who will assess them and help strengthen their mentality," he said.
A total of 11,045 children had become orphans due to COVID-19 as of July 20 this year. As per provisional data, Indonesia has around four million orphans, not including children who were victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data will continue to be updated with inputs from local governments, the Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini reported.
Her ministry is developing concepts and models for handling children who have lost their parents due to COVID-19, the minister said.
"It has been mandated in the 1945 Constitution that the poor and neglected children be looked after by the state. At the Social Affairs Ministry, the handling is carried out by the Directorate General of Social Rehabilitation," Rismaharini said on August 13, 2021.
The handling of orphans must involve various related parties, as its implementation must have a legal and budgetary basis, she pointed out.
The minister is currently readying special social aid for orphans, with the support of the Ministry of Finance and the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas). Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has signaled approval to the program, whose projected launch is no later than 2022.
The government is formulating a budget disbursal for orphans. The Social Affairs Ministry is conducting tracing through the family card to obtain details of orphans. If they are being cared for by a foundation, then the special social aid will be distributed to the foundation.
Earlier, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) has said it will ensure that children who lose their parents due to COVID-19 get the level of care they need.
"We have made a data management protocol and foster protocol for children infected and affected by COVID-19; children whose parents/caregivers/guardians are infected by COVID-19; as well as children whose parents have died because of COVID-19," PPPA Minister Bintang Puspayoga said, August 9.
The ministry has also issued a circular to provincial governments on preparing data on children who are separated from their parents due to self-isolation or death so they can get assistance and care.
Furthermore, the ministry has launched a call center number (129) and WhatsApp number (08111-129-192) where people can report children whose parents have died of COVID-19.
It also promoted the provisions for child protection, childcare, child adoption and guardianship, and preventive measures by optimizing the #BERJARAK movement to ensure women and children are safe and protected from COVID-19.
The ministry has also urged families to optimize their role in protecting children from COVID-19, as they have the right to be well-cared by their parents or their foster families.
Having accurate data on the number of children orphaned due to COVID-19 is crucial to make sure that they get protection, guardianship, counseling and assistance.
Hence, House Speaker Puan Maharani has called on the government to maintain a record of children, who lost either one of their parents or both of them to COVID-19, because she noticed that there was no such data so far.
"The government must be responsible for the future of Indonesian children, who became victims of this health crisis," Maharani emphasized.
In the short term, the children should immediately be accompanied to help them recover from the psychological impact of losing their parents, and their spirit and passion for learning should be revived.
"The government's budget for COVID-19 handling must be utilized for programs that protect children orphaned by the pandemic. The protection program can come in the form of compensation, scholarship, or study aid," she emphasized.
In the meantime, at least 56,045,931 Indonesians have received their first vaccine shots and 30,363,525 others have been fully vaccinated as of August 19, 2021, according to the data of the COVID-19 Response Task Force.
Overall, Indonesia is seeking to vaccinate 208,265,720 citizens to build herd immunity against the coronavirus under the nationwide vaccination drive rolled out on January 13, 2021.
Vaccines for teenagers have been distributed nationwide, with 50 percent of vaccines allocated for Java-Bali provinces and the rest proportionally to other provinces.
The government is formulating apposite budget disbursal for orphans. The Social Affairs Ministry is conducting tracing through the family card to obtain details of orphans. If they are being cared for by a foundation, then special social aid will be distributed to the foundation.
The government has also targeted 11.9 million children in the age group of 12 to 17 years to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots, the Ministry of Health reported.
"The vaccination drive for children in the age group of 12 to 17 years is focused on local health facilities or their respective schools," the Health Ministry's COVID-19 vaccinations spokesperson, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said during an online dialogue hosted by the National COVID-19 Handling and Economic Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN).
The current vaccine stock in Indonesia, however, is just some 190 million doses, a mere 44 percent of the 426 million doses necessary to satisfy the national vaccination target.
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