World Refugee Day has been recognized on 20 June ever since the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 55/76 in 2000, dedicating the day to raising awareness of the situation being faced by refugees around the world.
As the first Pillar of a Good Childhood, ACEI identifies that all children should have "safe and secure places for living and learning, with access to health care, clothing, shelter, and nutritious food." Unfortunately, this is often not the case for refugee children, whose education, health, and well-being suffer when they are forced to flee from their homes. Addressing the needs and rights of children affected by conflicts is essential in order to avoid loss of an entire generation and decades of development progress. Members of “lost generations” have been denied an education, and often face a future with few opportunities and poverty.
Every day, war, conflict, and violence force thousands of refugee children to leave their homes. Due to the protracted conflict in Syria, for example, many of them have been seeking safety in Europe. According to a report by UNICEF, nine out of ten refugee children coming from Africa to Europe make the hazardous journey unaccompanied. Sinking boats, starvation, exploitation, and violence are just a few of the challenges these children face when fleeing to Europe. In just the first five months of 2016, over 7,000 unaccompanied children crossed over from northern Africa to Italy, twice as many as the year before. The conditions in refugee camps in Europe and the Middle East vary widely; while some camps do provide shelter, food, heat, education, drinking water, and sanitation, others do not.
Refugee children are often denied their fundamental rights, protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The lack of a safe and secure place to live impacts children's growth, well-being, and development. World Refugee Day serves as an important opportunity to acknowledge the impact conflicts have on children and their families.
For more information:
UNICEF. (2016). No place for children: The impact of five years of war on Syria’s children and their childhood. UNCIEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa