Nearly 50 million children displaced world-wide, UNICEF report claims

The body warns inaction now will see "unfathomably high" consequences

Nearly 50 million children displaced world-wide, UNICEF report claims

Addis holds his 30-month-old son, Lato, in a cell at the Alguaiha detention centre in Libya | Image: © UNICEF/UNI187398/Romenzi

United Nations children's body UNICEF says almost 50 million children have been uprooted around the world.

Some 28 million of these have been driven from their homes by conflict, and millions more are migrating in the hope of finding a better life.

UNICEF says they are often traumatised by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, and face further dangers along the way - including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment, dehydration and trafficking.

"In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination", a new report says.

Two major summits of world leaders are due to take place in New York this month to address this issue.

The report, 'Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children', presents new data that "paints a sobering picture of the lives and situations of millions of children and families affected by violent conflict and other crises". 

Source: UNICEF

The report shows that:

  • Children represent a disproportionate and growing proportion of those who have sought refuge outside their countries of birth-  making up about one-third of the global population but about half of all refugees
  • 28 million children have been driven from their homes by violence and conflict within and across borders, including 10 million child refugees
  • More and more children are crossing borders on their own - in 2015, over 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries, triple the number in 2014.
  • About 20 million other international child migrants have left their homes for a variety of reasons including extreme poverty or gang violence

Source: UNICEF

"Indelible images of individual children - Aylan Kurdi’s small body washed up on a beach after drowning at sea or Omran Daqneesh’s stunned and bloody face as he sat in an ambulance after his home was destroyed - have shocked the world," said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

"But each picture, each girl or boy, represents many millions of children in danger - and this demands that our compassion for the individual children we see be matched with action for all children."

Source: UNICEF

UNICEF Ireland's executive director Peter Power added: "This is a shocking indictment and represents a failure of the global community to come to grips with this crisis.

"The global summits on migration in New York on the 18th/19th September will be a watershed moment.

If the global community does not act now, the consequences for the global community will be unfathomably high."

Source: UNICEF

The report points to six specific actions that will protect and help displaced children:

  • Protecting child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  • Ending the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives
  • Keeping families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status
  • Keeping all refugee and migrant children learning and giving them access to health and other quality services
  • Pressing for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants
  • Promoting measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalisation