Universal Children’s Day: Give Children on the Move a Fair Chance

November 20, 2015

Inequity, violence and rights abuses are driving forces behind the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe

NEW YORK (November 20, 2015) – Nearly 14 million children and adolescents in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan face war, conflict and injustices every day, fueling the current refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

A new report, For Every Child, A Fair Chance: The Promise of Equity, released by UNICEF today - Universal Children's Day - shows that the world remains a deeply unfair place for the poorest and most disadvantaged children despite major advances since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Today in Europe, refugee and migrant children are among the most disadvantaged of all children.

"Some have known only terror and tragedy, injustice and inequity all their lives, so it is little wonder that over 200,000 children have risked their lives this year to seek refuge in Europe," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. "They are victims of circumstances beyond their control; they should not now be victimized again and face new hurdles - shut borders, shut schools, shut homes. It is only right that they are given a fair chance at a new life."

For children fleeing war and conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, UNICEF says the only way to give every one of these children on the move a fair chance in life is an urgent political resolution to the conflicts in their countries of origin and humanitarian support in the region.

For children fleeing disparities and inequities in the Balkans or parts of Africa and South Asia, the key is to break the vicious inter-generational cycle of poverty and disadvantage by targeting resources where it matters most - investing in the worst-off in society.

The report For Every Child, A Fair Chance: The Promise of Equity presents a statistical summary of how the world's most marginalized children have fared against basic human development indicators. The report makes the case for closing persistent gaps in equity, arguing that investing in children, particularly the most vulnerable, is right in principle and right in practice, and that such investment brings multiple benefits not only to children but also to their families, communities and economies.

On November 20, UNICEF is launching its 'Fight Unfair' campaign together with an impressive team of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors who will raise their voices or activate their social media networks to help spur action for the world's most vulnerable children.

"It is shocking to think that one in nine children lives in a country affected by armed conflict, witnessing horrific violence and having their rights to survival, health and education destroyed," said British actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom. "I traveled with UNICEF to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia to see how the war is driving children and their families from their homes. The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Every country that can should be supporting the children and the families who have been affected."

Note to editors - some of the key statistics in the report show:

  • Children from the poorest households are nearly twice as likely as those from the richest households to die before age 5, and five times more likely to be out of school.
  • Girls from the poorest families are four times more likely as those from the richest families to be married before 18.
  • More than 2.4 billion people still do not have safe toilets - 40 percent of them in South Asia; and more than 660 million still lack access to safe water - nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Roughly half of the 159 million children suffering from stunting live in South Asia and one third in Africa.
  • Nearly half of all under-five deaths, and 43 percent of children not in school, are in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

Download a PDF of the report and multimedia materials from: http://uni.cf/1ONW3dm

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact:
Sophie Aziakou, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 917.720.1397, saziakou@unicefusa.org