Children on the move

Migrant and refugee children are often children in danger

The water filled the boat up till my knees. I was sitting on a man’s lap, and afraid for my mother, knowing the back pain she suffers from. I was afraid the boat might collapse in the middle and we would sink into the sea and die. I was afraid for my mother, and my mother was afraid for me.” Malak, aged 7.

Fifty million children around the world are on the move – running from conflict, poverty and extreme weather, looking for a better life and a place to call home. They are among the most vulnerable people on earth – children on the edge. 

Their numbers are not likely to fall. It’s one of the greatest challenges of our age.

In this crisis, children are the most vulnerable. Many are travelling with their families, many others on their own. Every one of them needs protection and is entitled to the rights guaranteed under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Migrant children and women, especially those without documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In transit and destination countries, migrants and their families often find themselves victims of discrimination, poverty and social marginalization.

UNICEF is working on the ground to ensure that programmes and policies in response to this crisis put the rights and needs of all children first. It is also working to expand humanitarian services wherever they are needed on refugee routes, including providing water and age-appropriate food, and establishing child-friendly spaces, where children can play and benefit from psychosocial support, and women can rest and take care of their babies.

At the same time, millions of children are still caught in situations of conflict, natural disaster, poverty and underdevelopment – the main root causes of the crisis – and UNICEF remains committed to supporting sustainable solutions where they are needed most.

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