Refugee Youth: Children in Crisis

By: Ana Tarlas, UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow

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Alan Kasujja took the stage at the 92Y and asked the Social Good Summit audience, which filled the venue to capacity, to stand in remembrance of Alan Kurdi. Kurdi was a 3-year-old Syrian refugee, who like so many others, drowned during a treacherous journey across the Mediterranean while escaping from the Middle East to Europe. The photo of his lifeless body washed ashore went viral in September of last year.

“Let’s sit down and have this conversation,” Kasujja said. Kasujja, moderator and BBC journalist, made it clear that Alan Kurdi was one of millions. And with a solemn voice, asked that we not only remember Alan, but all of the refugee children running to safety.

Currently the world is faced with the worst refugee crisis since World War II, displacing more than 63 million people around the world. Among the 63 million displaced, 21 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.  

UNHCR's Filippo Grandi and Save the Children's Carolyn Miles sat down with Kasujja to talk about the refugee agenda moving forward, and what can be done to help the children who have had their childhood stolen from war, violence and persecution.

“We have to give them back their childhood,” Miles said.

Miles spoke of the millions of refugee children that have not only lost access to their education, but also lost the option to be a child. The focal point of the Save the Children operation is to get refugee children back on the road to school, while providing a safe space to do so. Last year, Save the Children worked in 120 countries and helped more than 185 million children. Their initiative aims to ensure every child will live a healthy and prosperous life by 2030.

“Sometimes, it’s as easy as getting kids together to play together,” Miles said. “That’s one of the biggest things we can do to help kids feel a sense of normalcy.”

For the first time, the General Assembly called for a summit to construct a better international response and plan for the ongoing crisis at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on Monday. The summit aimed to unify countries around the world by proposing humane and organized solutions.  

“Every single refugee is a person,” Grandi said.

It is our duty to stand with refugees, to stop anti-refugee rhetoric and help refugee youth in need of education and safety. It is our duty to give refugee children hope and a sense of future.

To learn more about how to be involved in a child refugee’s life, visit www.savethechildren.org

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