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Map of refugee and migrant movement in Europe
UNICEF photo: a man sits on a bed holding two boys © UNICEF/UN026365/Gilbertson VII Photo Khaled tells a bedtime story to his two boys, Amr and Karam, at their shelter in the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood of Berlin, Germany, on June 3, 2016.

Refugee and migrant crisis in Europe

In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
11,300

children accessing psychosocial support

37,500

children receiving basic supplies to protect them from weather conditions and maintain good hygiene

10,300

at-risk children, including UASC, identified and referred to appropriate care and services

2017 Requirements: US$43,452,000

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Snapshot

Total people in need: 342,0001
Total children (<18) in need: 131,0002

Total people to be reached in 2017: 112,0003
Total children to be reached in 2017: 93,0004

Some 350,000 refugees and migrants5 arrived in Europe in 2016 despite border closures and the European Union-Turkey agreement in March. Such trends are expected to continue in 2017.6 Close to half of all arrivals by sea to Greece and Italy continue to be women and children, predominately from the Syrian Arab Republic and Afghanistan. On the Balkan route, women and children make up close to 60 per cent of all arrivals. In Italy, there was a sharp rise in the proportion of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) among all children that arrived in 2016. The situation in Greece and the Balkans remains equally challenging, with nearly 30,0007 children living in overcrowded reception centres. Many children have experienced violence, abuse or exploitation. Children who are stranded and on the move need protection and families need to be kept together to protect and safeguard children. All children need access to learning, health and other quality services and it is imperative to end the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating. As many children continue on to their intended destination countries using different informal pathways, responses need to be nimble and integrated across the region. UASC need specific support as they await the outcome of lengthy status determination and relocation processes, and more efforts are needed in countries of destination, where children have been living in temporary centres in sub-standard conditions for more than a year.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets

Greece

  • 6,000 children accessing psychosocial support
  • 5,000 children, including adolescents, participating in structured education activities
  • 2,000 at-risk children, including UASC, identified and referred to appropriate care and services
  • 500 social workers trained in protection standards in emergencies

Turkey

  • 37,500 children received basic supplies to protect them from weather conditions and maintain good hygiene
  • 2,500 at-risk children, including UASC, identified and referred to appropriate care and services

West Balkan countries (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

  • 5,300 children accessing psychosocial support
  • 1,100 at-risk children, including UASC, identified and referred to appropriate care and services
  • 700 social workers trained in protection standards in emergencies

Countries of destination and other countries (Austria, Germany and Italy)

  • 4,700 at-risk children in Italy, including UASC, identified and referred to appropriate care and services
  • 2,175 front-line workers and centre managers/coordinators trained in protection standards in emergencies to serve 48,0008 children and women residing in accommodation centres

In 2017, UNICEF will respond to the needs of children who are on the move, stranded or seeking asylum in Europe. Efforts will be made to expand and tailor UNICEF’s response to the specific needs of children in different country contexts. UNICEF will meet the immediate needs of women and children on the ground, strengthen protective systems for children and build the capacity of relevant institutions to deliver on their mandates for children. UNICEF will expand and significantly scale up its programme in Greece where most children are stranded, and will continue to deliver integrated packages of child protection, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), both in Greece and across the Balkans through child and family support hubs in locations where children are accommodated. UNICEF teams will simultaneously continue to conduct outreach to meet children’s needs in contexts of shifting routes and heightened vulnerability to smuggling and trafficking networks. In Greece and Italy, UNICEF will continue to expand operations to support government efforts to improve reunification and better protect children by providing state institutions with technical assistance on reception, accommodation, safeguarding and alternative care and foster family options.

In countries of destination, support will focus on improving standards for care and the reception of refugee and migrant children, and promoting social inclusion, access to education and other basic services. In all countries, special attention will be given to UASC and children in detention. UNICEF will also explore new modalities to reach adolescents, including through cash programming and youth engagement. Enhanced monitoring and coordination will inform continued preparedness and contingency planning in Balkan countries. The UNICEF response strategy in 2017 will be aligned with the interagency Refugee and Migrant Response Plan 2017 and implemented in collaboration with governments and key partners.9 UNICEF efforts in Turkey will complement responses under the 2017 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).10

Results from 2016

By 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$22.1 million against the revised US$31 million appeal (71 per cent funded).11 Since the start of the response in late 2015, UNICEF provided 182,50012 refugee and migrant children with a wide range of services. Following the significant reduction in the large-scale movement of refugees and migrants in March 2016, which led to an increased number of people stranded in Greece and the Balkans, more than 89,500 refugee and migrant children across Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia benefited from integrated psychosocial and case management services. UNICEF increased outreach teams’ coverage in Turkey and Greece, identifying and referring more than 9,800 at-risk children. Through a combination of advocacy and technical assistance, UNICEF supported national authorities to put children at the centre of their national responses and adopt operational protection standards that are being applied in reception and asylum centres in Germany and to temporary care for UASC in Greece. UNICEF and partners provided training and capacity development for more than 1,000 social workers in countries throughout the region. At the policy level, UNICEF worked to identify alternatives to UASC detention in Greece; advocated against migration detention of children in Bulgaria and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The number of refugee and migrant children detained in Greece declined in 2016, but additional efforts are needed to end child migration detention. UNICEF’s efforts allowed for the integration of refugee and migrant children into national education systems in Greece and the Western Balkans. Partnerships with national ombudspersons and civil society organizations increased local capacities for monitoring the situation of refugee and migrant children, and joint communication efforts with UNICEF National Committees across Europe helped to bring a more positive and child-centred narrative to public discourse on the crisis.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$43,452,000 for 2017 to meet the needs of children and women who represent up to 60 per cent of all people affected on the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan routes. This appeal is aligned with the 2017 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan. Given the highly fluid situation of children on the move, UNICEF is requesting donors to provide the funding as flexibly as possible to allow UNICEF to respond immediately, allowing countries to mount flexible and mobile responses, considering the volatile context, while keeping a strong focus on building up systems, including capacity building for front-line workers and maintaining strong policy, advocacy and technical assistance support for governments and partners. These requirements are complementary to the Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 appeals for the Syrian Arab Republic and Syrian refugees.

Requirements by sector

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1 This aligns with the refugees and migrants to be provided assistance by all Refugee and Migrant Response Plan partners in 2017, prioritizing the most vulnerable new arrivals, as well as those already in Europe.
2 This is based on the proportion of new child arrivals as well as the estimated number of stranded children in Bulgaria, Greece and the Western Balkans.
3 The total target is calculated across a combination of interventions simultaneously targeting people and affected children. Figures are rounded.
4 Ibid.
5 Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 'Refugees/Migrants Response – Mediterranean', UNHCR, http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php, accessed 14 December 2016.
6 According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/International Organization for Migration Refugee and Migrant Response Plan 2017.
7 Data aggregated from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees figures on children stranded in Greece and the Balkan countries (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).
8 This is an indirect target to be reached through training and therefore is not included in the total number of children to be reached by UNICEF.
9 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organization partners.
10 The 3RP is the inter-agency plan to coordinate the response to assist Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
11 Available funds included funding received against the current appeal of US$10.2 million and US$11.1 million carried forward from the previous year, with the 2015 appeal launched at the end of the third quarter of 2015.
12 This figure represents the total number of children reached in child-friendly spaces, mother-baby corners and child and family support hubs since the start of the response and the initial appeal launched at the end of the third quarter of 2015.