Child refugee Romaine, 12, lives in a refugee community in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was only eight years old when her family had to flee conflict in their home country, Central Africa Republic. Amidst the challenges, she is holding onto the dream of keeping in school and becoming a teacher.
A new global report, launched ahead of World Refugee Day by international aid agency World Vision, says that life for refugees in 11 countries around the world has deteriorated significantly within the past two years, especially for children.
World Vision’s report entitled “Hungry and Unprotected Children: The forgotten Refugees” surveyed refugees and internally displaced people from countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela and found that 82 per cent are not able to meet basic needs required for children to survive, such as food, healthcare or rent. More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) reported that their children, who should be growing, had lost weight over the last 12 months.
“COVID, conflict and climate change continue to put more and more lives at risk with hunger hotspots popping up around the world,” says Julie McKinley, Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs at World Vision Canada. “Our staff are hard at work in these places, but more international support, more Canadian support is needed—time is running out to save lives. The safety of refugee children is also under threat, as many find it impossible to access the services they urgently need. With just four per cent of child protection funded globally against its appealed amount, it is the least funded humanitarian sector.”
This is at a time when needs are increasing. The global report also found:
- Half of the refugee children do not have access to a safe shelter and 44 per cent do not have access to other child protection services, a 13 per cent increase from 2021.
- Health had deteriorated for many refugees, with one in four of those surveyed reporting the death of a family member in the past year.
- Almost half of those deaths were due to COVID-19 as vaccine access remains inequitable.
- Many refugee and internally displaced children are missing out on education, along with the security and support of being in a classroom, with the number of families reporting that they do not have the resources to send their children to school doubling between 2021 and 2022.
- The world’s least wealthy countries received just 1.4 per cent of available vaccines since the pandemic began, with children getting the tiniest fraction of that small amount.
“As the world rightly reaches out to support refugees fleeing Ukraine, we urge those who have the political power to prioritise the lives of all refugees and internally displaced people globally, which continue to worsen each year,” said McKinley. “All refugees need and deserve support, regardless of which country they fled. We urge donors to increase funds, rather than reallocate what has already been pledged, so that all refugees receive the support they need.”
The child-focused NGO is raising the alarm that as needs increase, funding is actually being cut or diverted to high visibility conflicts like Ukraine. Meeting humanitarian needs in Ukraine is critical, but should not be at the expense of other contexts where forcibly displaced people are struggling to survive.
World Vision report: “Hungry and Unprotected Children: The forgotten refugees” HERE