War, poverty up­roots over 50 mil­lion chil­dren from their homes

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

— WAR and poverty have forced 50 mil­lion chil­dren around the world from their homes, ac­cord­ing to Unicef.

Up to 28 mil­lion of the chil­dren have been up­rooted by vi­o­lent con­flict, with nearly as many aban­don­ing their homes in search of a bet­ter life, says a re­port re­leased by the UN agency.

The re­port, en­ti­tled Up­rooted: The Grow­ing Cri­sis for Refugee and Mi­grant Chil­dren, also says that the num­ber of child refugees has more than dou­bled in the past 10 years from four mil­lion to 8.2 mil­lion.

Unicef de­scribes the chil­dren as some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple on earth and gives warn­ing that if govern­ments do not act, the num­bers are likely to grow.

Whether it is from war, vi­o­lence, poverty or cli­mate change, the young­sters have been up­rooted by crises they are not re­spon­si­ble for, or have lit­tle in­flu­ence over, says Unicef.

The re­port, pub­lished on Tues­day, says that chil­dren make up about a third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion as of 2015 and ac­counted for nearly half of all refugees.

Speak­ing in Geneva, Ted Chaiban, Unicef di­rec­tor of pro­grammes, said: “What’s im­por­tant is that these chil­dren on the move are chil­dren. And they should be treated as chil­dren.

“They de­serve to be pro­tected. They need ac­cess to ser­vices, such as ed­u­ca­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, there were 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 45 per­cent of the chil­dren refugees came from just two coun­tries, Syria and Afghanistan.

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.

“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. — Al Jazeera

Unicef says 45 per­cent of child refugees are from Syria or Afghanistan Reuters

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