WILLS POINT, TX – Most people would agree that life is not easy. I know the homeless lady we took to church this week does. I’m sure those who have lost a job or suffered divorce or the death of a loved one do. Because of our own circumstances, it is difficult for us to look beyond our own distress to understand the plight of others who bear even heavier burdens.
One of those groups who live in the direst circumstances are the 65 million people who have been displaced from their homes and the 22.5 million people who have had to flee to other countries as refugees. This is the worst crisis of its kind since World War II.
More than half of all refugees – about 12 million – are children.
That number does not include the millions of ‘homeless’ children living on the streets of their own cities, towns, and villages in abject poverty. Nonetheless, it is difficult for the average person to fathom 12 million child refugees.
What does that even look like?
- If a person were to count to 12 million at a steady rate of 100 words every 30 seconds, it would take nearly a year to count to 12 million.
- The total number of refugees – including adults and children – is large enough that, if put together, they could form the 21st largest country by population in the world.
Here are some insights into the plight of refugee children that we have gleaned from the UNHCR, the ADRA, Save the Children, World Vision, and Bethany Christian Services.
- Refugee children need shelter, food, education, healthcare, and protection.
- Refugee children are susceptible to human trafficking with girls at high risk of sexual abuse and boys at risk of military conscription.
- Many child refugees from developing countries are currently located in other developing countries that cannot meet their needs.
- The number of child refugees increased 75 percent between 2012 and 2017.
- The top five countries in the world that account for the most refugees (all ages) are
- Syria – 5,600,000
- Afghanistan – 2,500,000
- South Sudan – 2,400,000
- Myanmar – 1,100,000
- Somalia – 876,000
The UNHCR and multiple NGOs have been working diligently in the countries to which these refugees have fled. Host countries where relief efforts are underway include Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Uganda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Much of the aid for refugee children is administered in refugee camps where conditions are poor at best. World Vision and Save the Children are leaders in helping in these venues, along with other organizations like the Red Cross.
Bethany Christian Services has developed a foster parenting program for orphaned children and those who have been separated from their parents. This program arranges for children to be brought to safety in caring homes in the U.S. The program includes 10 weeks of advance, intensive training for the foster parents. BCS also works diligently to reunited refugee children with their own families.
Pray for those who have a heart for Christ to minister to refugee children. And pray for the children.
- The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Children
- Save the Children, Children Refugees – The Worst Refugees Crisis Since WWII
- World Vision, Forced to Flee: How many refugees in the world?
- ADRA, Get the Facts: Refugees and IDPs
- Mission Network News, A look at refugee foster care in the United States