A child's crisis

Why the refugee and migrant crisis
should matter to us all

Home > Children uprooted: Why we should all care

Migration is one of the most pressing issues of our time

Around the world, whole communities are on the move and children are the worst affected.

Right now 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes and hundreds of thousands are estimated to be alone – traveling without their families, often to find work and support the family at home. 92% of children who arrived in Italy by sea were unaccompanied, and 75% of unaccompanied children reported experiences such as being held against their will or being forced to work without pay.

Children like Lamin have typical stories. Lamin made a treacherous journey from The Gambia through Libya to Europe. After crossing the Libyan border he was kidnapped and thrown into prison. It took his family seven months to gather the money to pay his ransom.

Lamin is now back in The Gambia, where he now educates young people on the dangers of making the journey. He has founded a group where he tells his story and helps other young people to find work to try and deter them from making treacherous journeys. Deprived, unprotected and often alone, young people on the move can become easy prey for traffickers and others who abuse and exploit them.

Watch Lamin's video to find out how he is working to help prevent vulnerable young people from making the dangerous journey to Europe.

What is Unicef doing for refugee children?

Imagine you’re a refugee child. You’ve lost both your parents because of war. You have been separated from your older brother, who has made it to the UK where he is now living in safety. You’re scared and alone and want to be reunited with your brother.

Right now in the UK,  family reunion refugee law would not recognise your brother as a member of your family. In the eyes of this law, only parents count as “family” – siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles do not. Refugee children who want to be reunited with family members other than their parents in the UK are being forced to make dangerous journeys to Europe to reach them.

We’re calling on the UK Government to change the definition of family within the UK’s refugee family reunion law so that children can be reunited with brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents. Add your name and help us change this law so that we can keep more


Your support will help us fix the law that is keeping families apart

Spread the word with your friends and family


Please add your name to our petition to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The petition states:

Right now, across the world, children are being forced to make dangerous journeys to Europe to reach their family in the UK. This is because the UK’s family reunion refugee law doesn’t consider their siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles family. We call on you to change the definition of family within the UK’s refugee family reunion law.


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Migration is not a new phenomenon

The desire to be safe with our families, for children to grow up healthy, strong and educated, and to give the next generation more opportunities than we have are universal and natural aspirations.

What’s different now is that faced with the global movement of people, we run the risk of losing our sense of humanity. We have started to forget that refugees are human, and that refugee children are children first and foremost.

No matter where they come from or where they’re going, all children deserve love, a safe home and hope for a happy future.

"We're refugees now. People don't like us," says Rawan, 12, who fled fighting in Syria. "No one is loyal, everyone lies. I was a kid before. I'm older now."

Iraqi Kurdish refugee Barzan Hassan, 24, from Erbil, Iraq, holds one-year old Yamar, outside their shelter in Ritsona refugee camp near Chalcis, Greece, about 50 kilometres north of Athens, Friday 10 March 2017. The camp, which houses about 700 people, was set up one year ago in response to large numbers of refugees becoming trapped in limbo in Greece after Central Europe closed it’s doors. In November, 2016, the camp transferred residents from tents to 160 containers that provide the refugees warmth and shelter from the snow and winter. Unicef/2017/Gilbertson VII
Migrants are men, women and children striving for what humans have always yearned for: safety and a better life.

It is through compassionate understanding that the so-called migration crisis can most effectively be addressed.

In Search of Opportunities report, Unicef West and Central Africa

Children are children first and foremost. We all have a responsibility to help child refugees

Children are not responsible for the bullets and bombs, for the changing climate, for inequality and poverty, yet they are often the worst affected. Global migration affects us all, and it is up to all of us to do something about it.

Watch and share our video using the hashtag #achildisachild to remind the world that we need to stand with child refugees.

Share this video to stand with refugee and migrant children and help give them hope for a happy future.

Tell your friends to stand with refugee and migrant children

In the UK, we’ll be continuing our campaign to reunite more refugee children with their families. When the UK leaves the EU, refugee children will lose even this limited legal route to be reunited with family. No one intended this to happen, and if not addressed, it will have a devastating impact on vulnerable children. Leaving the EU cannot mean leaving refugee children behind, and in the hands of traffickers and smugglers.

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