UNICEF urges action on plight of refugee children

4 Sep 15

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has made a powerful plea to the international community to protect migrant and refugee children from what is being called one of the biggest humanitarian crises since World War II. 

As Europe struggles to cope with the influx of migrants fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa, Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director, called for greater action following the publication of the “heart-breaking” image of a drowned refugee boy who was washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Lake also reflected on the “equally painful images” of children lying suffocated in the back of trucks crossing borders and being passed over barbed wire fences by desperate parents.

“As the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe deepens, these will not be the last shocking images to ricochet around the world on social media, on our television screens and on the front pages of newspapers,” Lake said.

“But it is not enough for the world to be shocked by these images. Shock must be matched by action.

“For the plight of these children is neither by their choice nor within their control. They need protection. They have a right to protection.”

UNICEF estimates that around a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of people who have sought refuge in Europe are children.

It said some 2,500 people have died or gone missing this year while attempting the dangerous journey to Europe.

He said decisions made by Europe’s leaders must be guided by the best interests of the children involved, and measures should be taken to ensure they receive adequate healthcare, food, education, emotional support, shelter and protection. And more trained child welfare experts should be deployed to support children and families.

Search and rescue operations should also continue, he said, adding that migrants should not only be looked for at sea, but also on land, as families move across countries.

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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