A new UNICEF report on Tuesday shows that nearly 50 million children are either refugees fleeing persecution or migrants seeking a better life as war and poverty continue to bring conflict to people’s lives.
Although children are only one third of the world’s population, they make up half of the world’s refugee population. The majority of them come from two notable war ridden countries: Syria and Afghanistan. Most end up in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.Many children, categorized as all people under the age of 18, are often travelling alone through war ridden areas. "In some places, like Eritrea and northern Nigeria the children are fleeing violence and conflict -- their parents are almost sending them ahead of them because it’s safer to flee than it is where they are," says UNICEF’s deputy director Justin Forsyth.
Parents often send their children off, believing the difficult journey will be better than staying put at their homes. Although the intent is good, children face the possibility of recruitment from armed groups, rape, and sexual assault.
“Though many communities and people around the world have welcomed refugee and migrant children, xenophobia, discrimination, and exclusion pose serious threats to their lives and futures,” said Unicef’s executive director, Anthony Lake.
Children are 5 times more likely to be out of school. Discrimination and hate towards refugees and refugee shelters have also made the lives of these children much more unmanageable. Children also lack legal representation, and have to handle these cases themselves.In general, the number of child migrants and refugees is rising. There are twice as many refugees now as there were in 2005. Today, one in every 200 children is a refugee. What’s worse is that there are no programs set up specifically for child migrants and refugees. While adults face problems regarding border control and law enforcement, detention is no place for a child. In UNICEF’s report, they urged for countries to follow the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty aimed specifically for the rights of children, regardless of background or migrant status.