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37 million children displaced, highest since World War 2

Conflict, violence and other crises left a record 36.5 million children displaced from their homes at the end of 2021, the highest number recorded since World War 2.

This figure includes 13.7 million refugee and asylum-seeking children and nearly 22.8 million children who are internally displaced due to conflict and violence, said a Unicef media release today.

These figures do not include children displaced by climate and environmental shocks or disasters, as well as those newly displaced in 2022, including by the war in Ukraine, it said.

Ahead of World Refugee Day, Unicef has urged governments to strengthen protection and access to services for refugee, migrant and displaced children.

The record number of children displaced is a direct result of cascading crises – including acute and protracted conflicts such as in Afghanistan, fragility in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Yemen and linked shocks exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. During the previous year, the global number of displaced children increased by 2.2 million, added the release.

“We can’t ignore the evidence: The number of children being displaced by conflict and crises is rapidly growing – and so is our responsibility to reach them,” said Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell.

“I hope this alarming number will move governments to prevent children from being displaced in the first place – and when they are displaced, to ensure their access to education, protection, and other critical services that support their wellbeing and development now and in the future,” said Russell.

Crises like the war in Ukraine – which has caused more than 2 million children to flee the country and displaced 3 million internally since February – come on top of this record high.

Additionally, children and families are also being driven from their homes by extreme weather events, such as by drought in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, and severe flooding in Bangladesh, India and South Africa.

There were 7.3 million new displacements of children as a consequence of natural disasters in 2021.

Children also account for approximately 34 percent of detected trafficking victims globally, read the release.

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