When you're fleeing home in chaotic and dangerous conditions you reach for the bare essentials - clothes, money and papers to help you through the journey ahead.

When you're a child forced to leave behind friends, family and the stability of home you reach for your most treasured toys - the cuddly companions who bring you comfort and joy wherever you are.
© UNICEF/UNI201665/Georgiev

Children on the move across Europe face long and stressful days without knowing where they will end up, what their new lives will be like or even where they'll sleep at night. Familiar playthings can help children adapt to their changing circumstances - to bring a little home comfort to a rough night out in the open. Sozdar, 6, took her favourite toy before she and her family fled their home in Syria.
© UNICEF/UNI201667/Georgiev

Not every fluffy friend makes it through the journey unscathed. Some are left behind, forgotten amid the panic of refugees scrambling to reach the next border. This lone bear was lost in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
© UNICEF/UNI201664/Georgiev
“Every toy left trampled in the dirt
is a reminder of a childhood lost.”
© UNICEF/UNI201669/Georgiev

Jowaher, 8, holds a cherished toy as she waits to enter the Vinojug reception centre in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
© UNICEF/UNI201671/Georgiev

Mira, 9, holds a new toy at a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, after losing her teddy bear on the journey to Greece. Although toys cannot replace a child’s normal environment, they can help relieve some of the emotional distress during crises.
© UNICEF/UNI201670/Georgiev

A toy pig lies in a puddle in a field between the Greek border and a reception centre near the town of Gevgelija, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 
© UNICEF/UNI201668/Georgiev

Children travelling across Europe often spend long hours waiting while their parents deal with registrations, paperwork and queues - an exhausting and frustrating experience when you have no friends for company. This girl sat on the ground and played with her toy bear as people crowded at the Vinojug reception centre near the town of Gevgelija, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
© UNICEF/UNI201672/Nybo

Syrian children Mahmood and Zahra received stuffed animals at a UNICEF-supported recreation centre in Croatia, as their parents collected food and warm clothing. These small comforts can help children hold on to a sense of normalcy and fun - to cling to a childhood that's quickly slipping away.


Helping kids in crisis

Wherever children are caught in emergencies, UNICEF works to uphold their fundamental rights to protection, health care and education.

You can help us continue this critical work for kids, wherever the need is greatest.