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.
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.
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
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.
Sign up to become a Unicef campaigner and use your voice to stand with refugee and migrant children.