Children Make Up Half the World’s Refugees

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Children refugees have increased to 50 million children worldwide with over 75% of them from ten countries. Syria and Afghanistan alone contribute to half of all children refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees according to UNICEF. Over 70% of children in Syria alone show signs of toxic stress due to conflict-related exposures, contributing to the tragedy of what will become a lost generation of Syrians. Refugee children are at high risk for recruitment, work abuse, violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and lives of poverty. UNICEF is calling for the international community to uphold the Convention of the Rights of the Child in assisting the migrant child crisis.

One out of every 200 children worldwide is now a refugee, with many who seek safer environments becoming victims of crime and trafficking. Many of these children are separated from their families and placed in detention centers with no legal representation. In Syria, 8.5 million children are dependent on humanitarian aid. UNICEF is asking for immediate action—including improvements in educational resources, health services, migration processes—to address the challenges faced by children seeking asylum.

Corporate news media have covered the story of the child refugee crisis in microscopic snippets, usually in a response to a particularly dramatic news photograph going viral internationally; for example, many remember Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance after the bombing in Aleppo, or the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey. The Washington Post and NBC News have published summaries of the UNICEF report, including information similar to the Guardian’s coverage, but major news agencies have not presented the real crisis and problem of the global impact in child migration and, especially, how it might be resolved. There are feel-good stories—such as NBC’s coverage of an art program that assists in recovery for children from the Syrian and Iraqi wars—but the depth of issues faced by child refugees across the globe, in terms of its human toll, costs to the international community in humanitarian aid, and any real solutions for addressing the issue of child migration are not prominent in corporate news headlines.


Kate Hodal, “Nearly Half of All Refugees Are Children, Says UNICEF,” Guardian, September 6, 2016,

Kate Hodal, “Syrian Children ‘Pushed to the Brink’ After Worst Atrocities Since War Began,” Guardian, March 12, 2017,

Student Researcher: Candace Huffman, (College of Western Idaho)

Faculty Evaluator: Michelle Mahoney, (College of Western Idaho)