UNICEF has recently released a report entitled “Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children”. The Report highlights that 50 million children have migrated around the world or been forced into internal displacement. Of these 50 million, 28 million have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict. The key findings within the report include:
- 45% of the child refugees were form Syria and Afghanistan,
- Nearly 1 in 200 children in the world are refugees,
- Nearly 1 in 3 children living outside their country of birth is a refugee,
- There are 2 times as many child refugees in 2015 than in 2005, and
- Around one half of African refugees are children.
Children are forced to flee their home countries or choose to migrate for various reasons. Conflict, poverty, violence, natural disasters, unemployment and discrimination or a combination of these factors and more have been described as some of the reasons why family and children choose to or are forced to leave their home country.
UNICEF’s executive director has stated that migrant children still suffer from xenophobia, discrimination and exclusion. Emily Garin, one of the core reporters and the managing editor, highlighted the importance of the big data presentation regarding child migrants and refugees. She told Al Jazeera, “The world hears the stories of child refugees one child at a time and the world is able to bring support to that child, but when we talk about millions it provokes incredible outrage and underscores the need to address the growing problem.”
The statistics presented in the report are particularly concerning given the vulnerability of children. Al Jazeera has reported that if governments do not engage in collective action to prevent forced displacement of children, the figures reported will only increase. The extensiveness of the report is important in bringing to light the effects that conflict, natural disasters and poverty can have on such a vulnerable group in society. Individual reports of the impacts that war can have on children evokes empathy and sympathy – however, hundreds of stories and statistics highlighting millions of displaced children can ignite significant action.
As well as detailing the statistics and information relating to child refugees and migrants, the Report describes six goals to protect child migrants and refugees. It is the collective responsibility of the global community to achieve these goals. The all-encompassing nature of the report which documents the number of child migrants and refugees worldwide is crucial given the continuing conflicts in Syria, the Middle East and Africa. Addressing the root causes of these conflicts would go a long way to decreasing the number of child migrants and refugees.