Child Refugees in Crisis Around the World

Who Are Refugees?

Refugees are people who seek a safe haven from violence, persecution and war. Millions of children and families from around the globe are forced to flee their homes, chased by bombs, guns and chemical attacks.

While homes and possessions can be replaced, children are irreplaceable. Many refugee children have been injured escaping their homeland. Others have been orphaned or lost brothers and sisters—robbing them of a happy childhood.

There is hope for refugee children. For nearly 100 years, supporters like you have been helping us create positive change in children’s and families’ lives worldwide.

Learn more about different refugee crises around the world and how the fate of the world’s children are intertwined. You’ll also learn how your generosity can help change their world for the better.

Fast Facts About Refugees

Fast Facts About Refugees Infographic

Risks Faced by Refugee Children

Risks Faced by Refugees Infographic

The Impact of Refugee Crises on Children & Nations Around the World

The conflicts and persecution that drive many refugee families from their home countries don’t just affect them. That impact reverberates on a global scale.


War in Syria has re-defined childhood for an entire generation. For more than 7 years, children in parts of Syria have been deprived of education, food, and healthcare. Many lived in basements for months before escaping to different countries.

Country of origin: Syria
Countries impacted: Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq

  • 5.6 million people have fled Syria to surrounding countries.
    • 2.6 million of these Syrian refugees are children.
    • In each of these countries, nearly half or over half the population of refugees are children.

How We’ve Helped
To date, we've helped more than 3 million children and their families facing or fleeing the crisis in Syria by providing:

  • A healthy start in life, including shelter, clean water, nutritious food, lifesaving health care and emotional and social support for traumatized children
  • The opportunity to learn, including temporary schools for young children and vocational education for teens
  • Protection from harm, such as child protection services, child-friendly spaces and youth activity centers

Our child experts have helped over 3 million Syrian child refugees and their families since the start of the crisis. But there is still so much more we can do. One of the best ways to help Syrian refugees is with a donation. Even a small amount can make a big difference.

South Sudan

In South Sudan, civil war broke out in 2013. This conflict left over 6 million people—many of them children—in dire need of humanitarian aid.

Country of origin: South Sudan
Countries impacted: Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya

Challenges Facing Refugees and Children:

  • 4 million people from South Sudan have been displaced.
    • 2 million have fled to neighboring countries.
  • Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting nation in Africa with over 1​.4 million refugees.
    • It’s feared that there will eventually be 1 million child refugees in Uganda, including those from South Sudan and Burundi.

How We’ve Helped
To date, we:

  • Are the main provider of health and nutrition in six out of 10 states in South Sudan, giving 99,844 children vital nourishment and 285,520 a healthy start in life.
  • Run 30+ child-friendly spaces and started accelerated learning programs and constructing classrooms to help children catch-up on education in Uganda.
  • Have trucked in clean water and provided technical assistance with water, well, and storage systems in Kenya.


In 2015, civil unrest broke out in Burundi causing 424,470 to flee to nearby countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC. These countries have limited resources of their own and face many challenges. Further complicating matters, long-established refugee populations in these neighboring countries are at-odds with new arrivals.

Country of origin: Burundi
Countries impacted:
Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda

Challenges Facing Refugees and Children:

  • Uganda has welcomed many Burundian refugees, as well as refugees from South Sudan.
  • The DRC has one of the world’s poorest health systems and 98 out of 1000 children die of preventable diseases before their 5th birthday.
  • Tanzania is home to some of the world’s hardest-to-reach children.
    • Only 16% of Tanzanian children registered at birth, making it harder to identify children in need.

How We’ve Helped:

  • Have increased access to quality, basic education for thousands of children in the DRC and have given 1,163,282 children a healthy start in life.
  • Reunited 40,000 Rwandan children with their families.
  • Operate refugee camps in Tanzania and DRC to give Burundian children a safe space to learn and play—giving them as much of a normal childhood as possible.


Large-scale violence in the Rakhine State in Myanmar forced over 688,000 Rohingya children and families to flee to Bangladesh since August 2017. We’ve been helping Bangladesh since 1970—just one year before the nation declared its independence.

Country of origin: Myanmar
Countries impacted:

Challenges Facing Refugees and Children:

  • Bangladesh faces serious problems including extreme poverty and natural disasters.
  • Rohingya children and their families face new dangers with the start of a new monsoon season—destructive storms could cause a disaster within a disaster.
  • Nearly 1 in 6 refugee children under 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition.

How We’ve Helped:
To date:

  • Our programs reach 15 million people every year in Bangladesh, including the long-term needs of Rohingya refugee families and children who arrived in the country before last August.
  • We run child protection services and offer support for unaccompanied children fleeing Myanmar.
  • Our staff of experts have created programs to swiftly respond to frequent emergencies—such as natural disasters —to help families and children in Bangladesh.

We’re proud to help refugee families and the nations who offer shelter and resources to them around the globe. Your donation can help those who are helping others—and create life-saving programs that build a brighter future for these children.

Help our caring staff of child experts to continue their work.

Help refugees. Donate today.

For more insight into the growing refugee crisis around the world, read the ​UNHCR’s 2017 report.

Learn more about how we’re helping c​hild refugees​.


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