Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants

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Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants
Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants
Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants
Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants
Supporting Child Refugees and Migrants
UNICEF Ukraine/ Pashkina
UNICEF Ukraine/ Pashkina

Dear Friend,

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 7.1 million people in Ukraine are internally displaced, with 130 children killed and 188 injured. Allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law against civilians, including women and children, have recently been reported in numerous states including Bucha and Irpin. On-going assaults, particularly on some of Ukraine’s largest cities, is causing devastating disruptions of essential services, including access to food, water, and medicines.

Thanks to your support, UNICEF has worked to mitigate these dangerous conditions within Ukraine. Since late February, over 239,000 people have been reached with water and hygiene supplies. Over 719,000 people have received life-saving medical supplies through hospitals and maternity homes. To help children cope with the extreme stress and trauma of living in a war-zone, UNICEF is working to provide recreational activities, psychosocial support and educational supplies to those who need it. This includes the 1,500 children living in metro stations, pictured, which are doubling as shelters for displaced Ukrainians.

The crisis has spilled over in to many surrounding countries, with nearly 4.3 million refugees having fled Ukraine as of April 5. UNICEF is mobilizing across these countries, working with government and NGO partners to ensure that Ukrainian refugees are received and supported with care.

With support from contributors like you, UNICEF has mobilized to provide support to refugees entering Moldova, Romania, and Poland. UNICEF has established eleven “Blue Dots,” which are family-friendly receiving centers for refugees crossing the border. At the Blue Dots, families are offered initial psychosocial first aid, connected with accommodations and transportation, and offered a warm place to stay as they plan for their next steps. Children are offered space to play and mothers can breastfeed and care for infants. Importantly, individuals passing through the Blue Dots receive referrals to additional services along their intended routes, including physical and mental health support and access to essential immunizations for children. To date, over 30,000 people have been reached at Blue Dots, with an additional 37 more spaces planned, including expansions into Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, and Slovakia. This video offers an inside look at how Blue Dot centers are supporting Ukrainian refugees.

Thank you for standing alongside UNICEF in support of the children and communities affected by the worsening crisis in Ukraine and the surrounding region. Your generosity continues to serve as a light for those who have been forced to flee their homes and will ensure continued support for these resilient communities.


In Partnership,


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Dear Friend,

Refugee and migrant children and families often face extreme hardships in their countries of origin and in transit. COVID-19 is amplifying harrowing situations for migrant and asylum-seeking children across Central America, Mexico and the United States. After fleeing gang violence in their communities, these children face threats of traffickers and cartels along migration routes, gender based violence and government policies that diminish their opportunity to thrive. Such policies include immigration detention and border closures that restrict access to international protection – a lifeline when the threat of gang retaliation and violence waits at home.

Detention is equally traumatizing for children. After days in facilities that often lack quality standards of care and hygiene, many children are forced to return back to violent communities. Oftentimes, children are held in detention without any information about their safety or their asylum case. Tens of thousands of children are held in Mexico alone each year. As policies change quickly, the need to improve case management for migrant children, increase protection, remove children from detention centers and install critical safety measures across the region is vital.

While the information we have is often incomplete, there is much that we already know about what works, and what needs to be done to ensure displaced children and young people are on the right track to survive and thrive. Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of ensuring access to mental health and psychosocial support for children, adolescents, primary caregivers, and families, and expanding community-based approaches to address and prevent common mental health conditions.

With your support, UNICEF was able to strengthen protection of migrant children at a critical juncture, and build capacity of government and civil society actors to support the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of children, while working to improve reception and care systems for the long term. In addition, UNICEF expanded child protection services, improved capacity building to service providers, case management and advocated for policy changes in Mexico, the United States, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This cross-border program has helped to meet the unique and comprehensive needs of children, including direct community needs as well as reinforcing policies that prioritize children’s wellbeing.

UNICEF’s engagement with the U.S. government increased significantly in 2021, providing important opportunities to expand impact for children. At the very start of the year, UNICEF worked alongside other UN agencies to bring asylum-seeking families safely into the United States as a part of the “End MPP Operation” – a US government led operation to wind down a policy that returned families to Mexico to wait out their asylum proceedings (the Migrant Protection Protocols or “MPP”).  UNICEF helped develop child-sensitive procedures related to the operation and provided direct support on child protection cases, while also building up reception capacity in northern Mexico. Overall, the operation helped over 13,000 family members with asylum cases within the U.S. be transferred into US territory.

UNICEF programming in the US, Mexico and Central America is helping children and families return to normalcy after harrowing experiences. Children – no matter where they come from or what their migration status – are children first and foremost. Thanks to your support children are being matched with a chance at a healthy, happy and productive future.

On behalf of migrant children in the region, thank you.

In Partnership,

Kelly Procida

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Dear Friend,

Ethiopia continues to face a severe humanitarian crisis as a result of the conflict in Tigray, with massive internal displacement, as well as refugee outflow into neighboring countries, predominantly into Sudan. As of May, it is estimated that 3.6 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the conflict in Tigray. Access remains an issue in Tigray and surrounding regions, with limited routes for aid access and continued threats against aid workers.

UNICEF is acutely concerned about food insecurity and subsequent malnutrition in displaced children. The typical belg rains that fuel the healthy growth of crops in the spring arrived a month later than usual; as a result, experts expect lower crop yields that will directly affect food security in the region. Lower yields will also lead to inflated prices, with market prices of staple foods already increasing by 19.2 percent in April.

Thanks to your support of UNICEF’s work on behalf of migrants and refugees around the world, UNICEF continues its life saving work to treat malnutrition for those impacted by this crisis. A total of 152,413 children in the country have been treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) between January – April 2021 with UNICEF direct support, and an additional 38,032 under 5 children were treated in May. Preventative measures have also been deployed. In May, counselling on infant and young child feeding was provided to pregnant women and caregivers with children under two years, reaching a cumulative 15,231 caregivers with counseling. Similarly, some 9,563 children aged 6-59 months have received Vitamin A supplementation.

Additionally, your support has ensured UNICEF continues to be able to provide education support for displaced children, returnees and other emergency-affected children in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and NGO partners. In total, 104,780 children have been reached through the provision of education services supported by UNICEF, government and NGO partners in emergency-affected regions of Ethiopia including Tigray. UNICEF is collaborating with Plan International to provide Bete services for children affected by the recent conflict in the area (Bete is an integrated child protection and education approach). Despite these important efforts, a number of education partners in IDP camps are not being reached with the support and supplies they need.

Finally, your generosity has allowed for UNICEF’s continued support of child protection and emergency services for internally displaced persons and returnees in the region. Some 4,001 children were reached with messaging on prevention and access to child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) services as it relates to COVID-19, and 10,222 women, boys and girls were provided with GBV risk mitigation, prevention and response services. Since January, 9,891 children and caregivers were provided with mental health and psychosocial support that included safe space activities, socio-emotional learning sessions and parenting education for caregivers. These sessions have enabled caregivers to understand and manage their own emotional experience and develop realistic expectations of child behavior that are appropriate to the developmental level of their child.

Thank you for standing alongside UNICEF in support of the children and communities effected by the worsening crisis throughout the Tigray region. Your generosity continues to serve as a light for those who have been forced to flee their homes and will ensure continued support for these resilient communities.


In Partnership,


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Children playing at the shelter for migrants
Children playing at the shelter for migrants

Dear Friend,

This year in Latin America has been marked by the intensification of migratory movements, despite the COVID-19 preventative measures. In fact, since the start of 2021, the number of migrant children reported in Mexico has increased sharply from 380 to nearly 3,500 as of April 2021. Many of these children, originating from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, are either waiting to enter into the USA, or have been returned.

In April 2021, Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, took a five-day visit to Mexico, including stops along its northern border with the United States. “I was heartbroken to see the suffering of so many young children, including babies, at the Mexican border with the U.S.,” said Gough. “Most of the shelter facilities I visited in Mexico are already overcrowded and cannot accommodate the increasing number of children and families migrating northward. We are deeply concerned that living conditions for migrant children and mothers in Mexico could soon deteriorate further.”

In many Mexican shelters, children represent at least 30 percent of the migrant population. Half of them have traveled without their parents, which is one of the highest proportions ever recorded in Mexico. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increased number of unaccompanied migrant children, as well as the arrival of entire families with children, has put significant strain on the overstretched Mexican assistance centers. 

It is important to note that Central American families aren’t migrating, they are fleeing gang criminality, poverty, job loss due to the pandemic, a lack of education and even the most basic health care. In addition, in November 2020, in one of the most destructive disasters to hit the region, Hurricane Eta made landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm. Just two weeks later, Hurricane Iota, a Category 5 storm, followed a similar path. Over 10 million people in Central America, among them four million children, were affected by life-threatening flash flooding, river flooding and landslides. As a result of the destructive storms, the economic situation has further deteriorated, leading to an increase in migration.

As a result of your support, UNICEF has been scaling up its humanitarian response across Central America and Mexico in the past months, with increased presence at the Mexico-U.S. border. In the first three months of this year, over 2,100 migrant children have already received humanitarian assistance from UNICEF at Mexico’s southern and northern borders. With the current funding, a total of 10,000 children on the move and their parents will be reached this year. UNICEF and partners are providing shelter and safe spaces for mothers and children to access care, including maternal and newborn health, as well as conducting family tracing and reunification.

Your generosity also ensures UNICEF and partners are able to tackle some of the root causes of migration. From providing alternative education, counseling and psychosocial support for vulnerable young people, to establishing new child protection offices and scaling-up cash transfers and other social protections for families in need. 

But humanitarian needs are on the rise and are expected to remain high in the coming months. UNICEF estimates that about 150,000 children on the move and families affected by violence in their places of origin across Mexico will require emergency and development assistance in the next two years.

With your support, UNICEF will continue to support Central American children and their families, both inside their countries of origin and across borders.

In partnership,


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Dear Friend, 

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a critical threat to children on the move. Across the globe, the lives of children and their families have been turned upside down by the rapid spread of coronavirus. In just a few short months, whole countries have found themselves largely confined to their homes in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and potentially lethal COVID-19. But millions of displaced children across the world are denied such basic protections –a home to isolate in, the chance to stay physically distant, or even just the facilities to wash their hands with soap and water. Many live in cramped conditions with limited access to safe water and clean toilets; others are in immigration detention or “left behind,” live with disabilities; are unaccompanied or separated from their families; and lots will struggle to access accurate information in a language they understand.

Displaced children – refugees, migrants or those internally displaced –are already amongst the most world’s most vulnerable, driven from their homes and all they knew and held dear by conflict, disaster, drought, lack of food or grinding poverty. Millions of children and their families live in overcrowded camps, settlements and urban slums where even basic water and sanitation facilities are absent. Access to free or affordable healthcare and other essential services is limited or unavailable, and many families rely on precarious daily wages and informal work to survive. Too often cut off from education, displaced children and their families are often already the hardest to reach with accurate and child-friendly information in a language they understand –and without the protection of school, children and women face increased risk of exploitation, abuse and early marriage. Tragically, misinformation on COVID-19 can exacerbate the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families already face. If the virus takes hold in those communities least able to protect themselves, as seems imminent, the impacts on vulnerable children and their families will devastating, both now and in the longer term.

Today, there are 31 million children who have been uprooted from their homes, including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers. All of them need some form of assistance. Most of them do not have the luxury of calling a doctor when sick, of washing their hands whenever they need to, or of practicing physical distancing to stop disease transmission.

UNICEF is working with partners to prevent the spread of the disease among refugee, migrant and displaced populations. This includes promoting hygiene practices that help prevent transmission in shelters, camps and other accommodation sites. It includes developing accurate, child friendly information on COVID-19 and materials to fight stigma and promote positive parenting. It also includes distributing hygiene supplies and providing access to water.

In Italy, UNICEF is working to reach young migrants and refugees. Those outside formal systems remain particularly vulnerable with limited access to health care, health information and support services. UNICEF is supporting outreach teams who provide vital health screenings, distribute hygiene supplies and share information to vulnerable children and families living in informal settlements. UNICEF is also reaching young refugees and migrants with vital health information through U-Report on the Move and Facebook Live sessions. UNICEF has procured critical supplies including personal protection equipment and hygiene kits for health staff and social workers. In addition, UNICEF has supported remote counselling and psychological support for refugees and migrants, over the phone or online. This support extends to guardians and foster care families who need support and stress management.

In Mexico, UNICEF is working to address the specific needs of at least 251,000 people in border areas, routes and transit points, in communities of origin and return, and at final destinations. UNICEF is working so that the most vulnerable children, families and communities are protected from exposure to and the impacts of COVID-19. UNICEF is working to ensure migrant children’s safe return to school; nutritional support during an increasingly vulnerable time; and the provision of sanitation and hygiene services and supplies. UNICEF is also working to provide psychosocial support to support the mental wellbeing of migrant children who have been through harrowing journeys.

In Kenya, UNICEF is working to ensure refugee children continue their education. Many children are at high risk of dropping out of school due to COVID-19 and the sudden school closures, not returning once their school re-opens. UNICEF is committed to helping refugee children continue their education. UNICEF has worked to connect these children with radios so they can complete radio classes while social distancing and remaining safe. UNICEF has also worked to contain the spread of COVID-19 in crowded camps and to ensure refugee populations have the right information when it comes to public health.

UNICEF works around the world to help protect the rights of migrant and displaced children. UNICEF is providing life-saving humanitarian supplies in refugee camps. UNICEF is running child-friendly spaces – safe places where children on the move can play, where mothers can rest and feed their babies in private, where separated families can reunite. In addition, UNICEF supports national and local governments to put in place laws, policies, systems and services that are inclusive of all children and address the specific needs of migrant and displaced children, helping them thrive. And at this critical moment, UNICEF is working to protect refugee and migrant children from the global pandemic and its socioeconomic impacts.

Thanks to your support, this important work to ensure every refugee and migrant child’s fair chance in life can continue.

On behalf of every child, thank you.

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Organization Information


Location: New York - USA
Project Leader:
Whitney Simon
New York, New York United States

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