If you believe a child is a child no matter what,
share this to stand with refugee and migrant children

Millions of children are on the move across international borders – fleeing violence and conflict, disaster or poverty, in pursuit of a better life.

The global number of refugee and migrant children moving alone has reached a record high. At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in some 80 countries in 2015–2016, up from 66,000 in 2010–2011.

Hundreds of thousands move on their own. When they can’t find opportunities to move legally, children resort to dangerous routes and engage smugglers to help them cross borders.

Serious gaps in the laws, policies and services meant to protect children on the move leave refugee and migrant children bereft of protection and care.

Deprived, unprotected and often alone, children on the move can become easy prey for traffickers and others who abuse and exploit them.

The current system is failing refugee and migrant children. States have a responsibility to uphold their rights and protect all children within their borders, without exception.

A child is a child. It is now time to act.

Missing out on education

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan, a 19-year-old education activist and Syrian refugee, travelled with UNICEF to Chad where nearly three times as many girls as boys of primary school age in conflict areas are missing out on education.

Globally, 25 million children of primary and secondary school age are out of school in conflict zones. For children living as refugees, only half are enrolled in primary school and less than a quarter are enrolled in secondary school.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan

Stand with children uprooted

Do you believe a child is a child?  That before migrants or refugees we are children first? That we should be protected? And we shouldn’t be locked up? Do you believe we should be able to stay with our families? Have the chance to go to school? And not be caught in wars we don’t understand?


Agenda for Action

UNICEF is calling for a six-point plan to keep
refugee and migrant children safe

Fast facts

Children on the move in Italy and Greece

Children on the move into Europe from Africa make the decision to leave home on their own, and do not initially intend to go to Europe. A new study commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by REACH find that for the majority of these children, the systematic trauma and abuse they witnessed or suffered in Libya caused them to flee to Europe and take the terrifying Central Mediterranean sea route.

As many as 75 percent of the refugee and migrant children interviewed in Italy as part of the study decided independently to embark on the journey. The journey itself can take a staggering two years or more for children. One of the main reasons children gave for leaving was violence at home, but also deprivation and conflict. Child marriage was also reported as the main reason for leaving by 1 in 5 of all girls interviewed. Children’s journeys to Europe were often fragmented and their destination changed along the way.

Spotlight: West and Central Africa

More than 7 million children are crossing borders this year in West and Central Africa. Some are on their way to Libya and the shores of the Mediterranean, but most of them are moving within sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the poorest countries in the world are carrying the burden of millions of migrants arriving, and this influx is stretching already precarious social services. Millions of children can slip through the cracks when systems do not protect them.

With the population of the region set to double in 30 years, and migration predicted to increase exponentially as a result of climate change, children on the move in the region could face even more dangers in the years ahead. The Agenda for Action will put children at the centre of discussions on migration, and the framework can help governments and partners build better systems that will keep children safe and help them adjust and thrive in the uncertain future.

UNICEF's report In Search of Opportunities: Voices of children on the move in West and Central Africa, takes a look at the complex issues driving migration and the challenges that children face on the move.

Children uprooted around the world

Voices of children

“One child moving alone is one too many, and yet today, there are a staggering number of children doing just that – we as adults are failing to protect them.”

Justin Forsyth, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director

Learn more