Refugee Children's Report Card: U.S. Doing Well at Helping Child Refugees but Needs Improvement

WASHINGTON, DC (September 6, 2017) – The U.S. government has been a long-time leader in caring for refugee children and their families, but its leadership has been uneven over the last three years, with particular concern over the last eight months, according to a new report card issued by the international humanitarian organization Save the Children.

Examining commitments and action taken since 2015 on four issues central to the health and wellbeing of refugee children, the Refugee Children’s Progress Report graded the government in the areas of education, child protection, food security and resettlement:

  • Education: A-
  • Food Security: B
  • Child Protection: B-
  • Safe homes through resettlement: D

Despite strong U.S. leadership on preventing harm to children, for example around early marriage and forced recruitment into militaries, the organization states more could be done to tailor approaches and better report on refugee children. Low marks for safe homes are a result of the current administration’s suspension of the refugee resettlement program.

The report is being released ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month and to mark one year since the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees and the endorsement of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants by the U.S. and 192 other countries during last year’s UNGA.

Nearly half of the world’s 17.2 million refugees are under 18 years old. And refugees of all ages now spend an average of 20 years living in exile. This means millions of refugee children will spend their entire childhood, teen and young adult years living in refugee camps or other displacement settings.

“U.S. leadership on stemming and solving the global refugee crisis is desperately needed,” said Michael Klosson, Vice President for Policy at Save the Children said at a briefing on Capitol Hill. “A U.S. retreat from responsibility sharing could prompt other governments to do the same and the result would be catastrophic.

“U.S. foreign assistance commitments to help meet essential refugee education, food and protection needs will mean the possibility of brighter futures for millions of children,” Klosson added. “Continued U.S. resettlement opportunities for the most vulnerable will allow hundreds of thousands of young refugees to go to bed at night feeling safe and secure.”

Save the Children is urging the U.S. to uphold existing resettlement commitments and use upcoming international negotiation opportunities to push for a universal “30 day pledge” on refugee education, so refugee children can return to learning within 30 days of crossing an international border.

Download the full report here.

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