A global emergency

Whether displaced, migrating, returning home, living on the street, fleeing conflict, or moving for work; these children are more vulnerable to dangers and to losing their rights.
Children on the move are more likely to experience:

  • Exploitative work
  • Sexual abuse
  • Violence
  • Hunger
  • Poverty
  • Sickness
  • Lack of education
  • Neglect
  • Death

These lost childhoods affect the future of the children and their families. But it’s society’s loss too. Fractured childhoods are sowing the seeds for a fractured future.
To turn this around, but we need to wake up to this issue and take urgent action. 


Key statistics

When we talk about children on the move, we’re talking about children in a wide range of situations and contexts. We know the scale of the problem is huge, but data and research into the issue as a whole is lacking. That’s why one of our demands is for more research. Even so, we do have some data about specific groups of children who are experiencing their Childhood on the Move.

  • As of 2016, 28 million or 1 in 80 children in the world were living in forced displacement – this includes 12 million child refugees and child asylum seekers, and 16 million children living in internal displacement due to conflict and violence.
  • Between 2005 and 2015, the number of child refugees worldwide, under UNHCR’s mandate, more than doubled from 4 million to 9 million.
  • Only 50 per cent of refugee children are enrolled in primary school; Less than 25 percent of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school.
  • 77% of children moving along the Central Mediterranean movement corridor report being exploited.
  • Over 100 countries, including the US, are known to detain children for migration-related reasons.