Conflict, poverty and hunger has affected 50 million children

UNICEF says 45% of child refugees are from Syria or Afghanistan UNICEF says 45% of child refugees are from Syria or Afghanistan © Jamal Saidi/Reuters

30 September 2016
War, violence and poverty force children to migrate.

Up to 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted from their homes, with more than half displaced by violent conflict, according to a report by UNICEF released on Tuesday 6th September.  The report is the first time that comprehensive global data about these children is presented.  While children make up one  third of the world’s population, they make up about half the world’s migrants.

The report cites that while “children do not bear any responsibility for the bombs and bullets, gang violence...they are always the first to be affected by war, conflict, climate change and poverty”. About half of the migrant children come from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan, according the the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, with the figure doubling in the last ten years. The report found that, increasingly, these children are travelling alone, with 100,000 unaccompanied minors applying for asylum in 78 countries in 2015, three times the number in 2014. The report further estimates that another 20 million children are migrants, driven from their homes by poverty and gang violence.

Turkey is host to the largest total number of recent refugees, with more than three million people fleeing the civil war in Syria. It quite likely has the largest number of child refugees, too, the report said. However Lebanon, relative to its population, is host to more refugees than any other country, where about one in five people in Lebanon is a refugee. The report also showed that among migrant children, three out of every five live in Asia or Africa.  In the Americas, home to roughly 6.3 million child migrants, four out of five live in just three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The report’s author, Emily Garin, stated the “...when we talk about millions it provokes incredible outrage and underscores the need to address the growing problem”. The report calls on the international community and governments to provide protection as well as address root causes contributing to the large-scale migration seen in recent years.


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