A refugee is an individual seeking refuge or asylum; especially : an individual who has left his or her native country and is unwilling or unable to return to it because of persecution or fear of persecution.
- Lack of global estimates that could provide whole picture
- Lack of comprehensive and comparable indicators on nature of child refugees & migrants.
A recent UNICEF report, ‘Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children’ has brought out disturbing data on children refugees. Its findings are:
- One in three children living outside their country is a refugee, children accounting for half of world’s refugees
- In the past decade child refugees have doubled
- Syria, Afghanistan accounts for half of world’s child refugees, highlighting the brutal impact of war on society
Positive developments like halving the infant mortality rates under MDG, rise in school enrolment under global universal primary education are overshadowed by increasing child trafficking and refugees.
Refugee child face host of risks like malnourishment, drowning during sea crossing, rape & murder, discrimination and xenophobia. Addressing their concerns requires a sympathetic & humanitarian perspective.
As recommended by UNICEF:
- Address the root cause of violence and extreme poverty in country of origin
- Increased collective efforts by governments & civil society in providing education, health, shelter, psychological support
- Establish fast procedures to unite children with their extended families
- Strengthening child protection system
- dispense with the detention of children seeking refugee status and to do away with reporting requirements
Compiling comprehensive data on child refugees and asylum seekers would help in evidence based policy making but effectively addressing the rights and needs of children requires a concerted action.