UNICEF is the agency of the United Nations that runs programs regarding children. It is an international organization with chapters in many countries.
It has just released a new report about the situation of children worldwide. UNICEF tries to support the childhood and development of children the world over. But it pays close attention to war-torn and poverty-stricken areas.
Globally, the situation for children has become worse and worse over the last decade. There were twice as many children under UNHCR’s mandate in 2015 than in 2005. The numbers and the individual stories paint a sad picture of the lives of these children.
According to the report, violence, poverty and other similar factors have been the cause of the displacement of 50 million children worldwide.
Out of that number, 28 million children are child refugees. They have left their original homes to flee out of the way of armed conflict. Another 20 million children are child migrants. They have left their original homes due to economic hardship. They are looking for a better life. 1 in every 200 children is a refugee. Worldwide, that is 0.5% of all children in the world that have refugee status.
For the purpose of the report a child was defined as a person younger than 18. The report also makes the distinction between migrant and refugee. Because we have recently seen the term “economic refugee” in use this is useful. The report uses the term refugee for people who are escaping persecution. The status of someone leaving an economically difficult situation behind is migrant.
UNICEF published the report this Wednesday and tries to tell the story of these children. Some of them are accompanied by their families, while others are on their own. Some have spent years planning their journey, while others fled their home at a moment’s notice.
The Situation of Children Refugees
The report wants to draw attention to the fact that the number of young victims of armed conflict is rising. It also wants to raise awareness regarding the difficult and dangerous lives that refugees live.
“Every child that has suffered, died, is a reminder of this huge challenge that we face,” Justin Forsyth told CNN. Justin Forsyth is the deputy executive director of UNICEF.
According to recent reports, more than half of all the refugees that are trying to get out the way of an armed conflict are children. Out of those, nearly half come from two countries: Syria and Afghanistan.
Another alarming number is the number of children that have been fleeing alone, without any adults to accompany them. That number is on the rise. In 2015, an estimated number of 100,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in 78 countries. That is three times more than the same figures for the year 2014.
UNICEF took the opportunity to send out another call to governments worldwide. Asking them to do more in order to protect and help children refugees that have been displaced children. Local governments have a big role to play in protecting children from exploitation and violence. Local institutions can choose to not keep those who seek asylum in detention. They can help keep families together. And facilitate access to healthcare and education.
Image source: here.