World Vision International
Press Release • Sunday, September 18th 2016

UN leaders can no longer sit on the fence; children’s lives are at stake this week

Share Tweet
  • More than 32 million children have had to flee their homes due to war, poverty and persecution
  • Aid and development agency World Vision says political inaction has gone on long enough
  • While governments stall, more children fall victim to exploitation and violence

Photo by World Vision

September 16, NEW YORK – For children suffering the effects of adult wars, next week represents the best chance of hope many have had in years.

“The Refugees and Migrants Summit (Sept 19) can and should make a huge difference to children forced to flee their homes because of war, poverty or persecution,” says World Vision’s President Kevin Jenkins, in New York for the summit. “In particular, the 6.6 million people displaced within Syria and the 4.8 million who’ve sought refuge in other countries by often risky and desperate means. The biggest barrier to addressing the root causes of this problem has been the lack of political will.”

World Vision says UN leaders are seriously failing the world’s most vulnerable children.

“Politics and bureaucracy should never get in the way of helping a scared, lonely child. All children deserve a bright future.”

Nearly 50 million children around the world have migrated or been forced to flee their homes, according to a new report released by UNICEF. Despite the shocking numbers and an agreement by governments that something must be done, the current system is not working.

“We should never let politics and bureaucracy get in the way of helping scared, vulnerable children. All children deserve a bright future full of hope,” says Jenkins. “At the moment, we are trying to address an extraordinary problem with ordinary ways of working – and it’s not working. It’s not helping millions of children living in limbo.”

Among them is 16-year-old Hussam, a refugee now living in Jordan. His family fled Syria with the help of smugglers when his classroom was bombed during a lesson. “I found my best friend Majid in the rubble. My teacher was also killed. I haven’t been to school for two years.”

Leaders must honour funding pledges, increase promises to provide asylum to vulnerable children and ensure the most basic rights of children in transit are met.

“We have seen some really strong and compelling leadership from countries like Germany and Canada, who have welcomed and attempted to integrate refugee children and their families. We have seen great promises from countries like the UK to especially support unaccompanied children. But we need to see such pledges honoured; it is neither fair nor realistic for a small handful of countries – like Lebanon and Jordan – to continue shouldering the burden alone.”

The pace of change is too slow, says Jenkins.

“While we’ve been waiting for the commitments made in this important meeting, children and families have been languishing in refugee camps and temporary settlements. Child labour, early marriage, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation and violence against children have run rife.

“We must see some very clear, time bound commitments for children emerge from this summit or it will be a wasted opportunity. The reality is that while leaders sit on the fence, children suffer. This isn’t good enough, children deserve better."

**Join @WorldVision and tell @UN leaders #kidsdeservebetter**