NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 16:33
Never before have so many children been on the run as now, according to new figures from UNICEF. The children’s rights organization estimates that by the end of 2022 there will be 43.3 million children. That number has doubled in ten years, according to the UN organization. She warns that aid to these children is under severe pressure due to the “alarming rate of increase”.
These are minors who have fled inside and outside their country. Some 26 million children have had to leave their homes within their country. For example because of war, persecution, violence, human rights violations or natural disasters. Millions of other children were forced to flee their country for these reasons
Three million Ukrainian children
The war in Ukraine, among other things, plays a role in UNICEF’s record figure. About 2 million children have fled the country and another 1 million children have been displaced, meaning they have fled within their own country’s borders.
The severe flooding in Pakistan in 2022 and the drought in the Horn of Africa will also cause many refugees, about 12 million in total.
Whole childhood on the run
Fleeing has a long-lasting effect on children’s lives. It is expected that most young refugees will spend their entire childhood outside their home country or place of origin. “That is very sad,” said a UNICEF spokesperson.
Many children end up in refugee camps or have to build a life in a new place. “They cannot return because the situation is no longer livable due to destruction or because nature is no longer suitable for agriculture, for example,” said the spokesman.
‘Most vulnerable group’
According to UNICEF, governments should do more to resolve conflicts and care for child refugees. “Children on the run are often among the most vulnerable. Many lack access to education and healthcare, routine vaccinations and social protection.”
Almost all countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that they have laid down in law that they must ensure that children have access to education, care and protection.
Yet many children on the run are subject to exploitation, according to UNICEF. Especially children who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian. Governments should better protect them against this and ensure that they can apply for asylum and be reunited with family. “By working together, we can keep children safe, healthy, educated and protected,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russel.