The opening paragraphs of the executive summary of a new UNICEF report Uprooted are shocking.
Around the world, nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced – and this is a conservative estimate. More than half of these girls and boys fled violence and insecurity – 28 million in total.
These children may be refugees, internally displaced or migrants, but first and foremost, they are children: no matter where they come from, whoever they are, and without exception.
Children do not bear any responsibility for the bombs and bullets, the gang violence, persecution, the shriveled crops and low family wages driving them from their homes. They are, however, always the first to be affected by war, conflict, climate change and poverty.
Children in these contexts are among the most vulnerable people on earth and this vulnerability is only getting worse. The number of child refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) mandate has more than doubled in just 10 years – this shocking statistic is simply unacceptable.
The report outlines UNICEF’s six goals “to protect child migrants and refugees and provide them with hope for the future”:
- Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence
- End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating
- Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status
- Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services
- Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants
- Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination
The full report which looks in detail at each continent can be downloaded.
UNICEF have also developed a multimedia sub-website to explain and illustrate their findings.