Nearly 50 million children “uprooted” worldwide – claims new UNICEF Report

7th September 2016

28 million forcibly displaced by conflict and violence within and across borders

 Download a PDF of the report and multimedia content at:

http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFQP5K8

Uprooted – The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children

DUBLIN/NEW YORK, 7 September 2016 – In a major global study released today, UNICEF claims that nearly 50 million children have been uprooted – 28 million of them driven from their homes by conflicts not of their making, and millions more migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Often traumatized by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, they face further dangers along the way, including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment and dehydration, trafficking, kidnapping, rape and even murder. In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination. Two major Summits of world leaders are due to take place in New York City this month to address this issue.

A new report released today by UNICEF, 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 that make it seem safer to risk everything on a perilous journey than remain at home.

“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.”

UNICEF Ireland’s Executive Director today said “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.”

UNICEF’s Report shows that:

According to Uprooted, Turkey hosts the largest total number of recent refugees, and very likely the largest number of child refugees in the world. Relative to its population, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees by an overwhelming margin: Roughly 1 in 5 people in Lebanon is a refugee. By comparison, there is roughly 1 refugee for every 530 people in the United Kingdom; and 1 for every 1,200 in the United States. When considering refugee-host countries by income level, however, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Pakistan host the highest concentration of refugees.

The report argues that where there are safe and legal routes, migration can offer opportunities for both the children who migrate and the communities they join. An analysis of the impact of migration in high-income countries found that migrants contributed more in taxes and social payments than they received; filled both high- and low-skilled gaps in the labour market; and contributed to economic growth and innovation in hosting countries.

But, crucially, children who have left or are forcibly displaced from their homes often lose out on the potential benefits of migration, such as education – a major driving factor for many children and families who choose to migrate. A refugee child is five times more likely to be out of school than a non-refugee child. When they are able to attend school at all, it is the place migrant and refugee children are most likely to encounter discrimination – including unfair treatment and bullying.

Outside the classroom, legal barriers prevent refugee and migrant children from receiving services on an equal basis with children who are native to a country. In the worst cases, xenophobia can escalate to direct attacks. In Germany alone, authorities tracked 850 attacks against refugee shelters in 2015.

“What price will we all pay if we fail to provide these young people with opportunities for education and a more normal childhood? How will they be able to contribute positively to their societies? If they can’t, not only will their futures be blighted, but their societies will be diminished as well,” Lake said.

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

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For more information, please contact:

Marina Happaney, Interim Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland marina@unicef.ie | Tel: +353 1 809 0276 | Mob: +353 83 197 4642