The Union home ministry has issued an advisory to states and Union territories to review the facilities for vulnerable groups impacted by Covid-19, such as children who have been orphaned, senior citizens and members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who may need guidance to access government support facilities.

In a release on Friday, the ministry said that the advisory has also called to put in place institutional mechanisms for preventing and countering human trafficking.

The advisory came amid concerns raised by several child protection and rights groups about the fate of children who have lost both their parents due to Covid-19. Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court had issued a notice to the Centre and the Delhi government in a plea seeking directions to safeguard the interests of such children.

Several non-government organisations have also raised concerns that calls for adoption of such children might be a cover used by those involved in human trafficking. On May 4, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani had tweeted saying it was illegal to directly adopt children and urged citizens to inform the police or district child welfare committees if one is in knowledge of such cases.

In its advisory, the home ministry has asked states to engage at block and local body levels for ensuring awareness against trafficking. The ministry also called for the strengthening of the women’s help desk at various police stations.

“The desk envisages to have enlisted panel of experts like lawyers, psychologists, NGOs who can assist in accessing support, provide shelter, rehabilitation etc,” the advisory mentioned, according to News18.

The ministry added that it was need to review the existing facilities for vulnerable groups to meet the new challenges arising out of the second wave of Covid-19. The review process should include steps for sensitisation of police personnel, coordination with agencies and departments concerned, as well as communities and civil society organisations, News18 reported.