More children than at any time since World War II found themselves fleeing conflicts, violence and other crises worldwide at the end of 2021, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF announced in New York on Friday, transmits news agency MIA.
According to the UNICEF figures, some 36.5 million children have been forced to flee their homes, nearly 22.8 million of whom were displaced by conflict and violence. The figures represent a 2.2 million increase in the number of child refugees worldwide since 2020.
The record high was a direct result of conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Yemen, UNICEF said, adding that a further 7.3 million children were made homeless in 2021 by natural disasters. UNICEF called on governments around the world to strengthen protection for refugees, migrants and children.
As the figures date from late 2021, they do not include Ukrainian children left homeless or forced to flee by the Russian invasion, which has led to the creation of a further 2 million child refugees since February, and left a further 3 million children displaced within the country.
In addition, children and their families have also been displaced by extreme weather events, such as the drought in the Horn of Africa and the severe flooding seen in India, Bangladesh and South Africa.
More than a third of displaced children live in sub-Saharan Africa (3.9 million or 36%), a quarter in Europe and Central Asia (2.6 million or 25%) and 13% (1.4 million) in the Middle East and North Africa, the UNICEF statement said. About two-thirds of all child refugees were enrolled in primary school, while only about one-third of adolescent refugees were receiving education, it added.