Vater hält Kind auf dem Arm während er durch ein Auffanglager läuft.

Protecting child refugees

Your donation makes a difference.

  • For CHF 56, you can donate a hygiene kit 
  • For CHF 125, you can give 90 children “leisure and play in a cardboard box” 
  • For CHF 195, you can give 60 children “school in a cardboard box” 
How much would you like to donate?

Child refugees

There have never been as many child refugees as there are today. The numbers are dramatic: 103 million people are fleeing over land, across seas and through war zones. This figure includes 36.5 million children. 

Wars, natural disasters and poverty are forcing more and more people to leave their homes. One in six children now live in a conflict or disaster zone. The number of children forced to flee within their home countries and across national borders has almost doubled in the last decade to 36.5 million. More than a third of displaced children live in sub-Saharan Africa (3.9 million or 36 percent), a quarter in Europe and Central Asia (2.6 million or 25 percent), and 13 percent (1.4 million) in the Middle East and North Africa. These figures do not include children displaced by climate-related and environmental disasters, or children newly displaced in 2022, for example due to the war in Ukraine.

Uprooted children, whether they are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced persons, can be exposed to serious dangers. This is especially true for the hundreds of thousands of children who are unaccompanied or separated from their parents, as these are at greater risk of human trafficking, exploitation, violence and abuse. Around 34 percent of human trafficking victims worldwide are children. 

Grosse Schwester hält kleine Schwester auf dem Arm.

The Syrian conflict is responsible for one of the largest refugee crises since World War II, and the catastrophic earthquakes are further exacerbating the situation. A total of 6.9 million people are internally displaced, including 3 million children. A further 2.7 million children have fled across Syria’s borders to neighboring countries since the civil war began and now live as refugees in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Türkiye. 

UNICEF has been working in Syria since 1970, providing care through mobile health and nutrition teams, setting up emergency shelters and focusing primarily on mental health care for traumatized children.

Mädchen steht vor zertrümmerten Häusern.

Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, 4.1 million children within the country have been dependent on humanitarian aid. UNICEF is therefore working around the clock to provide urgently needed assistance to the 5.4 million internally displaced persons and 8 million refugees, including nearly 3.9 million children.

Essential relief supplies such as hygiene items, clean drinking water, medical care and psychosocial support are being provided within the country and in neighboring countries. UNICEF supports Blue Dot centers where families can receive integrated and basic services.

Junge sitzt weinend vor einem rauchenden Feuer.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly since the Taliban came to power in 2021. Approximately 2.8 million people have since fled, seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. The main reasons are severe food insecurity, rising inflation and the resulting economic instability in the country. 

UNICEF has been working in Afghanistan for over 70 years, providing life-saving aid. Both in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, UNICEF is committed to the care and protection of child refugees and their families. Child-friendly zones are set up in emergency shelters, creating spaces where girls and boys can play and receive psychosocial support.

Kinder auf der Flucht_Südsudan_UN0747463x1200.jpg

After almost a decade of war, outbreaks of violence, chronic food insecurity, disease outbreaks and devastating floods, countless people in South Sudan are being forced to flee their homes. 2.4 million refugees are caught up in Africa’s largest refugee crisis, 63 percent of them children under the age of 18.

UNICEF’s humanitarian work in South Sudan aims to address the most urgent needs, particularly in the areas of health, nutrition, education and child protection. For example, UNICEF is helping to reinstate schools destroyed by the conflict and create safe places where children can learn and play. 

Afshan Khan, Polen 2022

“Already vulnerable, children on the move need urgent protection. No child should ever have to risk her life or his future in the wish to be safe.”

Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe.

Why do so many children have to flee?
The causes of migration and flight are manifold.

    One in six children now live in a conflict or disaster zone. This figure includes 13.7 million refugee and asylum-seeking children and nearly 22.8 million children displaced due to conflict and violence within their country. Before the war in Ukraine, two-thirds of all children forced to flee were from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Venezuela.

     Around one billion children are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. These children are exposed to multiple climate shocks associated with inadequate basic services such as water, sanitation and healthcare. In 2021 alone, 7.3 million children were newly displaced as a result of natural disasters.

    Despite progress being made, 365 million children suffer from extreme poverty, meaning they have to survive on less than USD 2.15 per day. Extremely poor families often lack the time and energy to attend school. At the same time, hunger weakens children and their families. This creates a vicious cycle: poverty and hunger prevent education, but education can prevent poverty. Many children and families therefore see no other way out than to leave home in the hope of a better future.

    Finally getting to be a child again and being able to learn and play in a safe place is not something that child refugees can take for granted. They often spend years in refugee camps or have to move from one camp to the next. Our goal is not only to provide these children with basic necessities such as medicine, food and water, but also to create local safe spaces for them where they can learn, play and dream.

    Protecting child refugees is a top priority for UNICEF. UNICEF has therefore launched a six-point plan known as the Agenda for Action. Its aim is to urgently protect child refugees from violence, exploitation, discrimination, xenophobia and captivity. Separation from parents must be avoided whenever possible. Children must also be granted the right to education and access to health services. In emergencies, UNICEF is one of the first organizations on the ground delivering important supplies, offering psychosocial support and working to return children to normality as quickly as possible. In addition to child-friendly zones where children can play, mothers can feed their babies and separated families can be reunited, UNICEF works to ensure that all governments find long-term solutions that respect children’s rights. This allows girls and boys to be children again and still have a future in spite of the difficult conditions.

    Please help us give these children hope and a future.

    Protecting child refugees

    Your donation makes a difference.

    • For CHF 56, you can donate a hygiene kit 
    • For CHF 125, you can give 90 children “leisure and play in a cardboard box” 
    • For CHF 195, you can give 60 children “school in a cardboard box” 
    How much would you like to donate?