Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Less than half of all school-aged refugee children are enrolled in school, with that dropping to one in four for secondary school, according to a joint statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Released yesterday afternoon and signed by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi, the statement notes millions of children around the world have been driven from their homes and across borders by conflict, violence and other forms of harm – including 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers.
As a result, going to school has been a daily challenge or impossibility for many displaced children around the world, something that is likely going to be worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic. They predict more children are now likely to be out of school for a prolonged period and some might never return.
” In some cases, children are also going without meals or clean water because of school closures. There are likely to be increasing rates of neglect, abuse, gender-based violence and child marriage as families experience further socioeconomic hardship”, the statement notes.
With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, they worry that the needs of refugee children have become even more acute and yet meeting them is key to safeguarding both their well being today and future potential.
Already they say displaced children are among those with the most limited access to prevention services, testing, treatment and other essential support. In addition, the pandemic and containment measures are likely to have negative consequences for their safety and education, which were precarious even before the outbreak of the disease.
They recommend that at a time when needs for support and attention multiply, the pandemic response must include clear commitments to the protection and wellbeing of forcibly displaced children.