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About half of all refugees in the world are children: UNICEF report

The plight of Syrian children was exposed to the world when Aylan Kurdi's (in picture) body washed up on a beach after drowning at sea. Photograph: (Getty)

WION New York, United States Sep 07, 2016, 01.30 AM (IST)
About 50 million children across the world have been 'uprooted' from their homes  by war, violence or persecution and millions more are migrating in the hope of "finding a better, safer life," United Nation's children program said today. 

In its new released report  'Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children', the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund  (UNICEF) underlines that millions of children all over the world, traumatised by the conflicts and violence, face further dangers during their including the "risk of drowning on sea crossings", "malnourishment" and "dehydration". 

"Indelible images of individual children – Aylan Kurdi’s small body washed up on a beach after drowning at sea or Omran Daqneesh’s stunned and bloody face as he sat in an ambulance after his home was destroyed – have shocked the world,” says UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake. 

“But each picture, each girl or boy, represents many millions of children in danger – and this demands that our compassion for the individual children we see be matched with action for all children.”

Children make up about a third of the world's population but about half of all refugees.

The children account for a "disproportionate and growing proportion" of people seeking refuge outside their home countries.

A grim picture of the world  

The report paints a grim picture of children and families, affected by violent conflict and other crises, who find it "safer to risk everything on a perilous journey than remain at home". 

The analysis of global data reveals that 28 million of those children were displaced by violence and conflict, including 10 million child refugees.
 
Staggeringly enough, more and more children, among those at the highest risk of exploitation and abuse including by smugglers and traffickers, are crossing borders on their own. 


Staggeringly enough, more and more children, among those at the highest risk of exploitation and abuse including by smugglers and traffickers, are crossing borders on their own. 
 

In 2015, over 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries – triple the number in 2014, the report reads. 

About 20 million other international child migrants have left their homes for a variety of reasons including extreme poverty or gang violence, the report states.


Largest number of recent refugees in Turkey 

Turkey hosts the largest total number of recent refugees, and very likely the largest number of child refugees in the world, according to Uprooted. 

Further, relative to its population, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees by an overwhelming margin: Roughly 1 in 5 people in Lebanon is a refugee. 

In United Kingdom (UK),  there is roughly 1 refugee for every 530 people by comparison while 1 in every 1,200 in the United States. 
Turkey hosts the largest total number of recent refugees, and very likely the largest number of child refugees in the world, according to Uprooted. 


"When considering refugee-host countries by income level, however, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Pakistan host the highest concentration of refugees," UNICEF report points out. 

In 2015, about 45 percent of child refugees under the UN refugee agency`s care came from Syria and Afghanistan.

Impact of migration

Migration can offer opportunities for both the children who migrate and the communities they join, the report argues. 

"An analysis of the impact of migration in high-income countries found that migrants contributed more in taxes and social payments than they received; filled both high- and low-skilled gaps in the labour market; and contributed to economic growth and innovation in hosting countries," it states. 
 
The UN report has also pointed out how legal barriers pose a challenge for the children to claim equal benefits as the children who are native to a country. 


children who have left or are forcibly displaced from their homes often lose out on the potential benefits of migration, such as education – a major driving factor for many children and families who choose to migrate. A refugee child is five times more likely to be out of school than a non-refugee child. When they are able to attend school at all, it is the place migrant and refugee children are most likely to encounter discrimination – including unfair treatment and bullying.

The UN global data has also pointed out how legal barriers pose a challenge for the children to claim equal benefits as the children who are native to a country. 

It has been observed that in the worst cases, "xenophobia can escalate to direct attacks. In Germany alone, authorities tracked 850 attacks against refugee shelters in 2015". 

Meanwhile, the international body has said it will take up the issue of migration in two late-September meetings on the sidelines of this year's UN general assembly.

"We'd like to see some clear commitments and practical measures," UNICEF deputy executive director Justin Forsyth told journalists in New York.

"The burden sharing of this crisis is not fair: the greatest burden is supported by neighboring countries or the poorest countries."

(WION with inputs from AFP) 

 
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