Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kate Hodal - Nearly half of all refugees are children, says Unicef

child refugee figures have jumped by 75% in five years to 8 million, and calls for urgent action to protect the 50 million child migrants worldwide

Children now make up more than half of the world’s refugees, according to a Unicef report, despite the fact they account for less than a third of the global population. Just two countries – Syria and Afghanistan – comprise half of all child refugees under protection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while roughly three-quarters of the world’s child refugees come from just 10 countries.

New and on-going global conflicts over the last five years have forced the number of child refugees to jump by 75% to 8 million, the report warns, putting these children at high risk of human smuggling, trafficking and other forms of abuse. 

The Unicef report (pdf) – which pulls together the latest global data regarding migration and analyses the effect it has on children – shows that globally some 50 million children have either migrated to another country or been forcibly displaced internally; of these, 28 million have been forced to flee by conflict. It also calls on the international community for urgent action to protect child migrants; end detention for children seeking refugee status or migrating; keep families together; and provide much-needed education and health services for children migrants. 

“Though many communities and people around the world have welcomed refugee and migrant children, xenophobia, discrimination, and exclusion pose serious threats to their lives and futures,” said Unicef’s executive director, Anthony Lake. “But if young refugees are accepted and protected today, if they have the chance to learn and grow, and to develop their potential, they can be a source of stability and economic progress.”

Today children comprise one-eighth of all international migrants in the world (31 million children out of 244 million total migrants), according to 2015 data. The vast majority of child migrants – some 3.7 million children – live in the US, followed by Saudi Arabia and Jordan, while in Europe, the UK hosts the largest number of migrants under the age of 18 (close to 750,000)… read more: