What’s happening in Europe?
Children are fleeing war and disaster in greater numbers than ever before since World War 2. More than a million people, one in five of them children, arrived on the shores of Europe last year, and the number continues to rise.
Abrupt border closures earlier this year have left thousands of refugee children stranded at transit centres in Greece and other south-eastern European countries, trying to reach family in Europe or countries where they intend to seek asylum, but unable to move.
What is Unicef doing to help children in Europe?
Together with partner organisations we have established child and family support hubs – known as Blue Dot centres because of their distinctive blue dot marking – across Europe to provide help and support to children and families.
Because the situation is changing, the support that we offer is readily adaptable to fit the needs of children and families. The Blue Dot centres provide a range of services, including family reunification, child-friendly spaces, first aid, psychosocial and emotional care, legal counselling, safe spaces for women and children to sleep and outreach social workers.
We’re also active in transit centres for refugees and migrants, providing clean water, sanitation facilities, blankets and clothing for children.
In September 2016, we provided psychosocial support and learning and play activities to around 2,400 children in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. We also reached 5,600 children with basic supplies and hygiene kits.
The plight of these children is neither by their choice nor within their control.
They need protection. They have a right to protection.
Anthony Lake, Unicef Executive Director
What else needs to be done for refugee children?
The response to Europe’s child refugee crisis is challenging. We are working hard to try to reach “invisible” refugee children, who are taking dangerous, illegal routes and facing heightened risks of abuse, exploitation and trafficking.
Unicef is working constantly with governments across Europe to ensure improved conditions for child migrants and refugees. We’re also carrying out important data collection, which analyses the situation of children across Europe so that we know what we need to be providing.