Nearly 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted from their homes due to violence, poverty and other factors out of their control, according to a new report released by the U.N. children’s agency.
“There are nearly 50 million children in the world that are either refugees, migrants or internally displaced,” Unicef Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth told reporters at a briefing on the new report.
He said of that number, 28 million children have fled violence or conflict. “That is a near doubling of child refugees in the last decade. It is a tripling of the numbers of unaccompanied children,” he said. “It’s a growing crisis; it’s a children’s crisis.”
Of the 28 million children, 10 million are child refugees and one million are asylum-seekers whose status has not yet been determined. The remaining 17 million children are displaced by conflict and remain within the borders of their home countries.
The report said 45 percent of the children refugees came from just two countries: Syria and Afghanistan. But this crisis affects children from all parts of the world, including Central America, Asia and Africa.
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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 found.
Because these children often lack documents, they are especially vulnerable.
The report estimates another 20 million children are migrants, driven from their homes by poverty and gang violence among other things.
Refugee and migrant children face a host of risks including drowning during sea crossings, malnourishment, dehydration, kidnapping, rape and murder. When they arrive in other countries they often face discrimination and xenophobia, the report stated.
When they arrive in other countries they often face discrimination and xenophobia, the report stated.
UNICEF calls on global community to support the child refugees
“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,” said Emily Garin, the UNICEF report’s author.
The report calls on the international community to provide protection, education and health services to these children and asks governments to address the root causes contributing to the large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.