While all children must be protected, some of the youngest refugees face even greater risks. This is particularly the case for “unaccompanied and separated children” – minors who have fled alone or have become separated from parents and are not being cared for by an adult who by law or custom has responsibility to do so. it is essential that data are collected to identify these children, protect and assist them.
Unfortunately, data on displaced unaccompanied and separated children are limited, both in terms of availability and the quality of data reported. Many countries with large registered refugee populations do not report on unaccompanied and separated children in the population.
In 2017, UNHCR began to report on the number of unaccompanied and separated children in the refugee population from UNHCR refugee registers and in 2018 requested governments to do the same. in response, 53 countries reported a total of 111,000 unaccompanied and separated child refugees in 2018.
The largest number of unaccompanied and separated child refugees was reported in Uganda with 41,200, with the majority aged under 15 (29,900) and 2,800 aged under 5. Most of these children originated from South Sudan (37,000) and DRC (3,500). Unaccompanied and separated children represented nearly 5 per cent of the entire South Sudanese refugee population present in Uganda.
Kenya reported 13,200 unaccompanied and separated children in 2018. Other countries with significant such populations included Sudan (11,300), DRC (9,400), Canada (8,400), Chad (4,200), Lebanon (3,200), Burundi (2,200), Morocco (2,200), Guinea (2,000), Rwanda (1,800), Egypt (1,800), Zambia (1,500), Ireland (1,100) and Iraq (1,000).
As in 2017, South Sudan was the most common country of origin for unaccompanied and separated child refugees, with 58,600 representing 53 per cent of the global population. Other countries of origin reported for unaccompanied and separated children included DRC (9,900), Rwanda (7,600), Syria (7,600), Central African Republic (5,600), Burundi (2,300), Somalia (2,200), Côte d’Ivoire (2,100), Nigeria (2,000), Afghanistan (1,500) and Sudan (1,100).
Effects of displacement on refugee children's education
- Refugees children are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers.
- Only 2.9 million of the 6.4 million refugees of school-age were enrolled in primary or secondary education in 2016. More than half of them -- 3.5 million -- did not go to school.
- Primary education enrolment for refugees increased from 50 percent in 2015 to 61 percent in 2016, in large part due to improvements for Syrian refugee children thanks to increased international efforts and measures taken by host governments.
- 1.5 million refugee children were not in primary school and 2 million refugee adolescents were not in secondary school.
- 61 percent of refugee children, and less that 50 percent of refugee children in low-income countries, attend primary school. Globally, 91 percent of children attend primary school.
- 23 percent of refugee adolescents, and 9 percent of refugee adolescents in low-income countries, attend secondary school. Globally, 84 percent of adolescents attend secondary school.
- Only 1 percent of refugees enrol in college or university. Across the world, enrolment in college or university stands at 36 percent.
- For every ten refugee boys in primary school, there are fewer than eight refugee girls.
- For every ten refugee boys in secondary school there are fewer than seven refugee girls.
SOURCES: UNICEF, IOM, UNHCR
IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons / Foreign and Commonwealth Office [OGL v1.0 (http://NationalArchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)]