More than half of all child refugees in the world remain in their home countries, according to latest research by the international children’s charity, World Vision.
According to the aid agency’s new report, On the Road to Somewhere, the UK and other wealthy countries are not committing enough funding or focus to the needs of children forcibly displaced within their own countries. The study reveals that, of the 28 million children who were forced to flee their homes due to conflict and disasters in 2016, more than 16 million were displaced in their own countries.
Erica Hall, World Vision UK’s technical policy lead, said: “Contrary to some widely-publicised views, we now know that large-scale displacement across borders is less common. UN statistics show us that internally displaced child refugees make up the majority of the world’s children who have been uprooted from their homes.
“We would like to see the UK government taking courageous steps to protect these children by guiding the international community in providing funding and also establishing effective global policies that address the protection needs of these children who are on the move.
“This is a matter of urgency. Ensuring that humanitarian funding meets the specific needs of children, including – protection, education, mental health and psychological support is critical. Ultimately, these children will want to return home, and live fulfilling and promising futures. This is our hope for them,” she added.
The On the Road to Somewhere report draws on World Vision’s experience to highlight five critical elements to ending violence against refugee children on the move:
· Creating safe environments,
· Strengthening child protection systems,
· Ensuring safe access to education,
· Challenging attitudes, norms and behaviours that allow violence against children to continue
· Empowering children as agents of peace
Hall added: “We are aware global level discussions at the moment focus on child refugees (those who cross borders) and we would like to remind global leaders of the neglected internally displaced children. As a Board Member of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, the UK’s International Secretary, Penny Mordaunt must make sure these issues are on the agenda.
“We urge her to ensure that there is improved investment within conflict and disaster- affected countries to keep internally displaced children safe from violence,” Hall continued.
The report, published today (20 June 2018) to mark World Refugee Day, also notes that at least
3,270 grave violations against children were recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017 alone – a 245 per cent increase since 2015. The grave violations include recruitment as child soldiers, sexual violence, and destruction of schools.
In war-torn South Sudan, seven million people are internally displaced as a result of conflict. Of these, 60 per cent – or three in five – are children, many of whom are sexually abused, forced to participate in the fighting as child soldiers and coerced into marriage.
According to latest UN statistics, the number of displaced people around the world has reached a record high of 68.5 million in the past year. Latest figures also show that only 100,000 refugees were resettled by international community in 2017, while 3 million new refugees were created.