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Twice as many children are crossing the Mediterranean compared to last year and this journey is more dangerous than ever for migrants and refugees fleeing war, persecution and extreme poverty. Against this background of a significant and avoidable loss of life, Save the Children is launching a new search and rescue effort in the Mediterranean.
The world is witnessing a rapid escalation in the number of people forced to flee from conflict, wars and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq – moving toward countries of transit, such as Greece, Italy, Serbia, Lebanon and Egypt – seeking safety and relief of suffering in countries like Germany and other open — border European nations. Read President Obama's statement about America's continued commitment to refugees.
Save the Children's Response
Save the Children has been responding to crises around the world for almost 100 years. We quickly moved to meet the growing needs of children and families on the move, allocating funding from our Children’s Emergency Fund to respond to the crisis in several locations. Here are examples of countries where our relief efforts are underway:
Since the beginning of the conflict, Syrian children have been the forgotten victims of the horrific war. Today, over 7.5 million children are in need of assistance, including over 2 million Syrian children who have sought refuge in neighboring countries. These children are at risk of becoming a "lost generation" and cannot be ignored. We must save Syria's children.
Libyan refugees have been arriving in Egypt in increasing numbers since late 2014. Save the Children is conducting a rapid needs assessment so we can provide children and families with child protection interventions such as child-friendly spaces.
We are providing children with psychosocial and emotional support and holding art, music, drama and dancing sessions for children. We are distributing school kits and holding Arabic, English, Maths and French classes. Our psychosocial support team is providing support for the assessment of Libyan refugees and migrants in Egypt during assessments conducted in Cairo, Giza and Alexandria, and we are holding health promotion sessions for children, focusing on personal hygiene, oral health, protection from heatstroke, and adolescent girls personal hygiene.
We initiated a rapid needs assessment at informal camps located on the three Greek Islands most affected — Lesvos, Chios and Kos. We are moving forward with child protection initiatives to build the capacity of government authorities and civil society organizations to help vulnerable children — especially those who are unaccompanied — and to coordinate a protective environment for children in informal camps. We are also distributing emergency shelters, hygiene kits and baby kits.
Up to 70% of the refugees arriving in Greece are Syrian. A large proportion of refugees are children - like young Layla.
Lebanon hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees relative to its population in the region, with almost 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees, constituting one-fourth of the country’s population. Some 53 percent of these refugees are children. We have reached over 530,000 Syrian refugees here, including 313,000 children, with critical protection, education, food and shelter assistance.
As increasing numbers of refugees are traversing the Balkans toward the core of Europe, Save the Children is set to help children and families who are spending time in public spaces and abandoned buildings in Belgrade. We plan to provide relief such as food, water, blankets, shelters, and to open child-friendly spaces. We are also setting up a central coordination hub to respond to concerns of child trafficking, child abuse and exploitation.
The majority of people using the Western Balkan route to reach Europe are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Somalia. The overwhelming number of people reaching Serbia, including families, pregnant women, women with children and elderly persons, is an enormous pressure on the Serbian authorities whose existing capacities are inadequate for the scale of arrivals. The authorities and civil society are stretched to provide basic humanitarian aid, registration and accommodation.
Save the Children has been working at the southern borders of Italy since 2008, addressing the needs of children who arrive from across the Mediterranean Sea. We have set up child-friendly spaces that give children a safe place to play and socialize, releasing stress and talking about their experience with trained emergency staff. Support services are provided to child refugees at railway stations in Rome and Milan, and Save the Children has been offering care and guidance for girls and boys at government processing sites. We are intensifying our activities there.
How You Can Help
Fundraise for Refugee Children
To help reach even more refugee children with lifesaving and life-changing aid, Save the Children has teamed up with Crowdrise to harness the power of crowdsourcing. Join us and support our relief efforts by fundraising for this campaign.