A young migrant at a transit center for migrants who are being sent home from Algeria in Agadez, Niger. Credit: ANSA/UNICEF
A young migrant at a transit center for migrants who are being sent home from Algeria in Agadez, Niger. Credit: ANSA/UNICEF

The UN children fund UNICEF said there are 30 million children worldwide who have been displaced by conflict, the highest number since World War II. The organization is calling on world leaders to intensify protection measures for minors.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, UNICEF said there are more than 30 million children who have been forcibly displaced by conflict worldwide, the highest number at any time in history since World War II. It said these vulnerable children need access to protection and essential services to keep them safe now, as well as sustainable solutions to ensure their wellbeing over the long term. 

Unprecedented levels of unaccompanied children migrants 

UNICEF said the global number of refugee and migrant children moving alone has also reached previously unseen levels, increasing nearly five-fold within the five-year period from 2010 to 2015. At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in some 80 countries in 2015-2016, up from 66,000 in 2010-2011. It said the true figure of children moving alone, however, is likely to be significantly higher. 

Unaccompanied and separated children are at heightened risk of trafficking, exploitation, violence and abuse. Children account for approximately 28 percent of trafficking victims globally. 

Redoubling efforts for children 

Amidst ongoing conversations over a global plan of action in support of refugees, UNICEF is urging world leaders to redouble efforts to secure the rights, safety and wellbeing of the world's most vulnerable children - so many of whom remain displaced by conflict, violence and political instability. 

It said as the number of forcibly displaced and refugee children has reached record highs, their access to essential support and services like healthcare and education remains deeply compromised. Only half of all refugee children, for example, are enrolled in primary school, while less than a quarter of refugee adolescents are in secondary school. 

"On World Refugee Day, it's important to remember the threats and challenges that children on the move face daily," said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine. "Uprooted children - whether refugee, asylum seeker or internally displaced - face grave risks to their health and safety, along with significant barriers that limit access to the services they need to thrive. These children need more than just a day - they need hope, opportunities and protection. We call upon member states to renew their commitments to fulfil those children's rights and aspirations." 

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