One of 28mil­lion chil­dren dis­placed by con­flict

UNICEF re­port high­lights plight of young­sters caught in the cross­fire of war

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By 7DAYS News Team @7DAYSUAE

This girl, pic­tured in a refugee camp on the Turk-Syria bor­der, is just one of 28 mil­lion chil­dren around the world who have been driven from their homes by vi­o­lent con­flict, with nearly as many aban­don­ing their homes in search of a bet­ter life. That was the stag­ger­ing statis­tic from a UNICEF re­port that found while chil­dren make up about a third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion as of 2015, they ac­count for nearly half of all refugees – with the num­ber of child refugees hav­ing dou­bled in the past decade.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, there are 10 mil­lion child refugees and one mil­lion child asy­lum-seek­ers, whose sta­tus had not yet been de­ter­mined. The re­main­ing 17 mil­lion chil­dren dis­placed by con­flict re­mained within their home coun­tries’ bor­ders.

The re­port said that 45 per cent of refugee chil­dren came from just two coun­tries: Syria and Afghanistan.

“What’s im­por­tant is that these chil­dren on the move are chil­dren. And they should be treated as chil­dren,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Di­rec­tor of Pro­grammes in Geneva.

“They de­serve to be pro­tected. They need ac­cess to ser­vices, such as ed­u­ca­tion.” An­other hor­ri­fy­ing statis­tic from the re­port was that the num­ber of dis­placed chil­dren trav­el­ling alone is on the rise, with 100,000 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors ap­ply­ing for asy­lum in 78 coun­tries in 2015, three times the num­ber in 2014.

Be­cause these chil­dren of­ten lack doc­u­ments, they are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble. The re­port es­ti­mates that 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 and kid­nap­ping. When they ar­rive in other coun­tries they of­ten face dis­crim­i­na­tions and xeno­pho­bia, the re­port stated.

“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 re­port’s author.

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