International treatment of refugee and migrant children right now should shake the world’s conscience.

We’ve seen children seeking safety in the US only to be torn from their parents and locked in detention. Heard their cries for ‘mamá’ and ‘papá’ as they are forced behind wire fences – a sharp reminder of the children who have languished on Nauru.

While the US President has now ordered an end to this shocking practice of family separation, this does not provide a solution for more than 2,000 children who have already been taken from their parents at the border since May. It could also lead to the indefinite detention of entire families. Detaining children like this, even for a short period, can have a devastating impact on their mental health, well-being and development.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen children stranded on the Mediterranean Sea for eight days – scared, dehydrated and utterly exhausted – until Spain finally agreed to let them in. 60 of these girls and boys were alone, without parents to keep them safe.

We’ve seen Rohingya refugee children face the new crisis of monsoonal rains in Bangladesh with not nearly enough of the humanitarian aid they need to survive. Thousands of them are struggling without parents who got separated or killed while fleeing from violence in Myanmar. Each day, 60 more babies are being born into the camps while intense winds, flooding and landslides wreak havoc on their families’ shelters. And yet the humanitarian community has received just 22% of the funds it needs to respond to this crisis.

All of this happened as the UN declared that more children than ever before have been forced from their homes, in search of safety and a better life.
Rohingya families are surviving in simple shelters made from tarpaulins and bamboo. Now, monsoon season could pummel the camps with more rain in the next month than Melbourne receives in an entire year. © UNICEF/UN0213948/Sokol

Every child has inalienable rights

All children on the move – no matter where they come from or what their migration status – deserve the same care and compassion as any other child. It doesn’t matter if they’re a refugee, migrant or citizen. A child is a child.

The children we’re seeing on the news have an inalienable right to protection. Keeping them safe with their families is not negotiable.

Political leaders are disregarding their duty of care to children. With little remorse, they are sweeping aside the sacred principle that every child deserves protection. This is a terrifying prospect for children on the move and for our common humanity.

Time for action, time for hope.

Children in crisis deserve our shock and our grief but more than anything, they deserve our help. It is not enough to simply watch in sadness – we can and must take action for children who are still in danger.

Whether on our doorsteps or in remote camps, children fleeing crisis need help to survive today and to thrive in the years to come.

85% of the world’s refugees are living in developing and middle-income countries which are woefully under-resourced to meet children’s needs.

As monsoons bear down on the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, flooding is putting Rohingya children at dire risk of cholera and other deadly diseases. They urgently need safe water and soap to prevent an outbreak that could spread through crowded tents with devastating speed.

2.4 million Syrian children are now living as refugees in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Eqypt. Having escaped relentless violence, they are struggling to survive, learn and live out their dreams in sprawling tent cities. Too many have become malnourished after years of deprivation. They need therapeutic food and medical care to survive and grow up strong.

But aid must be more than food, water and medicine. Children on the move and in chaotic camps need trained experts to protect them against exploitation and abuse.

Over 173,800 refugee and asylum-seeking children are separated from their parents or have been forced to flee on their own. They need help to find their families members or to be welcomed into other safe and caring households in their communities.

The scale of the global refugee crisis is staggering but these are so much more than numbers. Every child escaping from war, disaster and persecution has an important story to tell. Has a real laugh and real dreams. Has the same right to a decent childhood and hopes for a long, bright future. Only a good education can arm them with the skills and confidence they need to rebuild their lives and, one day, their own countries.

Children are not giving up and neither can we.
A Syrian boy learns with UNICEF's support while living as a refugee in Egypt in 2017. © UNICEF/UN0212312/Noorani

UNICEF is getting results for children every day

UNICEF was founded to help children, deliver emergency aid and do so without discrimination on the basis of race, nationality or political belief. Our work is driven by a fierce conviction that every child is born with the same inalienable rights to a healthy, safe and supported childhood. And for over 70 years, this same conviction has driven our teams through the difficult and dangerous work of humanitarian action in the world’s most remote and unstable places.

Right now, UNICEF’s dedicated teams are doing all they can to protect and support children on the move, in camps and in makeshift settlements throughout the world.

We are particularly focused on serving the most vulnerable, including those who are separated from their families, girls at risk of abuse, children with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

We are vaccinating children, treating them for malnutrition and giving them access to clean water. We are reuniting children and parents who lost each other in the chaos. We are helping bright young minds back to school and giving them specialist support to overcome their harrowing experiences of violence. To help children be children again.

UNICEF is working with refugee children to make their voices heard and to tirelessly advocate for governments to protect children’s rights. We are making an impact and so can you.

You are powerful. Choose to care, choose to help.

None of this work is possible without our incredible community of UNICEF supporters who so generously give their donations and their voices to vulnerable children every single day. They give us the means and the motivation to face historic new challenges.

When you choose to give, you are helping UNICEF to reach some of the most vulnerable children on the planet as quickly and effectively as we possibly can. You’re helping refugee girls and boys to survive and move forward with hope.

Please give now and give generously.

Your gift will fund UNICEF’s emergency programs in refugee camps, war zones, natural disasters and wherever children most need our help in crises throughout the world. Donate before 30 June to claim a tax deduction for this financial year.

Together we can live out that simple ideal that every child deserves our care. We can help children to be children again.
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This is how we use your donation

90 cents of every dollar donated to this emergency went directly to our emergency response work in the field.

10 cents per dollar from funds raised by the public went to investing in further growing fundraising in Australia.

The value of non-monetary donations and gifts as well as fundraising costs that are funded by UNICEF Geneva and not the public are excluded from this bar chart. The values above are from UNICEF’s 2017 Annual Report.