Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, offers a powerful personal message about why we must support child refugees from Syria and other conflict-torn countries.
“The refugee crisis, for me, conjures up images of my mom and her brother. My mom was 6; her brother was 4. They came to this country alone. Their parents knew it was the only way they could save their lives — to put them on a boat and send them to America. And luckily, America’s shores and doors were open ... I can’t imagine what that choice was like for her mom or for millions of moms who are facing that same choice today.”
The facts are staggering. There are more children on the run today than there were at any other period since World War II.
UNICEF reports that, to date, nearly a million people, including 300,000 children, have made the treacherous journey to Europe. Some 500 children have lost their lives at sea. In Germany alone, there are currently more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors (including those who claimed asylum prior to 2015). More than 11,000 unaccompanied children and adolescents have applied for asylum in that country.
"To save their life and send them away ... I can't even imagine having to make that choice." — Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO of UNICEF USA
In Sweden, at last count, there were 26,000 unaccompanied child refugees.
In addition to food, shelter, clothing, health care and education, kids on the run "will need help with the trauma, dealing with the violence they've seen ..." says Stern.
There is hope.
"A lot can be done for these children," Stern explains. In Europe, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey—and in the countries these children come from—"UNICEF is on the ground ... ensuring these children get the childhood they deserve."
She adds: "Society should be measured, is measured, by how we treat our children."
Help us put children first.
UNICEF works around the world to help the world's most vulnerable children. Your support can deliver urgent assistance to children in need and prove that these children aren’t invisible. Please make a gift and help children on the run worldwide. You can also advocate for children or start your own fundraiser. Learn more.