Hunger and risk levels increase for third year in a row for the world’s forgotten refugee children – World Vision

Hunger and risk levels increase for third year in a row for the world’s forgotten refugee children – World Vision
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
  • 85% forcibly displaced families are unable to afford enough food to meet their daily nutrition needs 
  • 25% of families are responding to increased financial pressures by keeping their children out of school; 19% have sent their children to work. 
  • Significant numbers of families in Afghanistan and Niger – 12% and 7% respectively - reported using child marriage as a coping mechanism for decreased income. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2023  International aid agency World Vision has today warned that hunger and violence levels for the world’s forgotten refugee and internally displaced children are continuing to increase, while funding fails to keep pace.   

In the lead-up to World Refugee Day, the child focussed NGO’s annual survey of refugee and internally displaced families reveals sharp increases in hunger and violence against children, even against 2021 data at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of families who are borrowing from others in order to afford basic necessities has doubled from 2022, and 82% of families are reducing the quality and quantity of their meals to cope with lower incomes. 

“The needs of children in places like Syria, Niger, DRC and Afghanistan are now greater than they have been in years, but there is not enough funding in place to respond and these children are being forgotten. Today millions of children are struggling to exist in refugee camps. Too many are being forced to marry in order to survive. Too many are being forced to work in order to survive. They are hungry. They don’t get to go to school. They don’t get to have a childhood. And the world is forgetting about them.” said Amanda Rives, Senior Director of Disaster Management at World Vision. 

Invisible and forgotten: Displaced children hungrier and at more risk than ever reveal that parents are extremely worried that their children are at increased risk of violence. Hunger and desperation is forcing them to take their children out of school and send them to work, or sell them into child marriage. Overall, almost a third of households have a child out of school and only 11% of households are able to fully meet education expenses, down from 31% in 2022. 

“We have surveyed forcibly displaced people for three years in a row, and more families than ever (41%- up from 30% in 2022) are telling us now that their children are at an increased risk of violence,” Rives explains. “Children living in displacement camps are two times more likely to be forced to work when compared to those who live in other locations. We are extremely concerned about the especially high rates of child marriage in Afghanistan and Niger. Many families there have no access to income and no access to food. They are being given an unimaginable choice - either allow your children to die from starvation, or sell one child to marriage so that they can eat, and the dowry will enable you to feed the rest of your family. It is a decision that no parent should have to make, but too many are being faced with. It is an outrage that this is happening in 2023” .

Most families surveyed by World Vision said that they have dreams of supporting their families and rebuilding their countries. However, with so many malnourished children out of school, and with funding for the increasing needs not in place, the future for too many is bleak right now- even if they do get to return home someday.  

“There is enough money and resources in the world. Hunger levels, along with child labour and child marriage figures, should not be increasing. The number of refugees and internally displaced families in the world today can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that refugees are agents of their own future. If they receive the help that they need now, they can survive, rebuild their communities and thrive. We must respond.  Forgotten refugees and internally displaced families need prioritised funding now. They deserve the means to provide for their families. Their children deserve a childhood. They deserve dignity. They deserve to be remembered.” said Ms Rives.