As Number of Child Refugees Reaches One Quarter Million This Year, Save the Children Calls for Europe to Do More

Number of Child Refugees Entering Europe in 2015 is Equivalent to Nearly Three Times the Amount of People that Will Fill the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day

Refugee crisis

"I had to leave. I didn’t have a choice. I was no longer safe," said Gerges, 18 years old, who made the journey from Egypt to Italy. "I want to go to school, get an education and then work legally. I want a normal life." The image is part of an illustrated series by David Foldvari which tells the story of two boys who made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy.

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Fairfield, Conn. (December 22, 2015) — “Despite many European countries and people generously helping one million refugees, Europe is doing too little to protect and help vulnerable refugee children and stop families drowning on our shores,” said Save the Children in a statement today.

The number of refugees entering Europe in 2015 has surpassed 1 million. This includes more than 250,000 child refugees, the equivalent of nearly three times the amount of people that will fill the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“This is the test of our European ideal. When children are dying on our doorstep we need to take bolder action. There can be no bigger priority,” said Save the Children’s Kirsty McNeill.

“Some reception facilities, especially at borders, aren’t adequately providing for basic needs like food, water or healthcare,” she said. “The situation is expected to worsen with the onset of winter – especially for children - who are also more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, violence and trafficking. We urge European states to focus on immediate humanitarian needs on the ground, especially for children.”

Recent discussions around the proposed detention of migrants for up to 18 months for security screening are viewed with great concern by the charity, which works across the European migration routes.

“Any proposals for detention must fully consider how to avoid locking up children, which is against their rights as declared in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Too many children tell us they’ve been locked up in prisons along their route to claim asylum – which is also their right,” McNeill adds.

“What these children want most is to go home. Until that’s safe, we should offer a warm welcome.”

Save the Children has also recently opened the first Child Friendly Space (CFS) in Germany. The CFS is based in the reception center in the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, which hosts more than 2000 refugees, 40% of whom are children. The CFS is financed by the German IKEA Stiftung and is run in cooperation with the operator of the center, Tamaja GmbH.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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