Nearly 50 million children worldwide are refugees or migrants, new report says
Posted 9:00 a.m. Tuesday
Children like Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found washed ashore after a boat carrying other migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, and Omran Daqneesh, who was photographed in the back of an ambulance after a bomb devastated his home, have become the faces of the child refugee crisis to those all over the world.
But as shocking as both images of those boys are, recent data shows they are two of nearly 50 million children worldwide who are fleeing or facing extreme violence in their country of birth.
"Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children", a Sept. 7 report by UNICEF, found that children account for more than half of all refugees and migrant around the world. It went on to say that 28 million left because of "violence and insecurity."
Broken down, UNICEF estimates that one in three of all children living outside of their country of birth is a refugee. The report goes on to say that the number of children refugees has doubled to one in every 200 — or .5 percent of — children worldwide since 2005.
Syrian and Afghanistan are the two leading countries from which children are fleeing. UNICEF says Turkey, on the other hand, is "likely the host of the largest number of child refugees in the world."
Many of these children fleeing their home country are doing so alone, the report found. In 2015, around 100,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in 78 different countries, which UNICEF estimates is three times as many who applied the previous year. The report did not say why there was such a dramatic increase in unaccompanied child migrants.
Child refugees face numerous challenges when migrating, including detention and separation from their families. The report found that while both boys and girls are leaving their homes in equal numbers, they face different dangers. Boys are more likely to be recruited for militant groups, and girls are threatened with sexual violence.
Refugee children are also lacking in educational opportunities, the report points out. Children who are refugees are five times as likely to miss school than their non-refugee counterparts. And in many places, those who do attend school — particularly Muslim refugees and migrants — face discrimination.
UNICEF is asking governments and global leaders to enact policies that would protect these children and prevent separation among families, as well as end the detention of children who enter a country seeking asylum or migrating.
"These children may be refugees, internally displaced or migrants, but first and foremost, they are children: no matter where they come from, whoever they are and without exception," the report said. "Children do not bear any responsibility for the bombs and bullets, the gang violence, persecution, the shriveled crops and low family wages driving them from their homes."
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