A new report from UNICEF, Uprooted, says that there are 50 million children in the world who have been forced to flee their home.
Unrest in Syria, Afghanistan, and many other nations has brought on the biggest movements of people in recorded history. The sheer numbers are staggering.
28 million children are fleeing conflict. 10 million of those are refugees, with another million seeking asylum and refugee status. A further 17 million children are internally displaced as they are forced to seek safety from violence and war elsewhere in their own country.
On top of that, a further 20 million children are fleeing widespread gang violence and extreme poverty and with or without their parents, are seeking refuge in a safer place.
Even after these children have fled their homes, they are met with challenged that most people will never have to face.
“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” according to UNICEF.
Obviously this enormous movement of people needs a clear process and system to relocate and harbour these children in particular. The quicker these children have stability the better, because many people agree that a refugee camp or a detention center is no place for a child to develop and live a healthy, happy life
In what often times becomes political ping pong accompanied by a forgetful media and public, the Uprooted report implores the world to not forget that these are individual children, not figures and numbers, or powerful images for newspapers and news sites, but children.
Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF puts it best in the reports foreword:
Some things, once seen, can never be unseen.A toddler’s small body washed up on a beach after drowning at sea.A mother’s terror as she passes her baby over a barbed wire fence at a border crossing.A holding room in a detention centre, filled to overflowing with adolescent children,many fleeing forced participation or retribution by violentstreet gangs.A small child sitting in an ambulance, bloody, exhausted, and stunned into silence after the building where he and his family lived was destroyedin a brutal attack.Such indelible images command the world’s attention and invoke its compassion.But only one image, one child at a time.The moment passes – the news cycles move on. But the danger and desperation that drive so many children and families to flee their homes are not moving on. Lately, they seem only to get worse.So we must not forget that each child, each picture, represents many millions of children in danger at home – and many millions of children whohave left their homes. This demands that our compassion for the individual children we see be matched with urgent – and sustained – action for all child refugees and migrants.