DSC_0030What the world often forgets is that refugees are not failed people even after their birth nations are considered to be failed states. We have dreams and aspirations. We are resilient as a people and we will continue our demand for decency and a place to call home.”- Farah Abdullahi, former child refugee, who reached Malta by crossing the Mediterranean in 2012, says.


Today we are faced with the highest numbers of refugees around the world and their situation is more critical than ever.

50 million people have either been displaced inside their countries or have fled to foreign lands. The risks they take to reach a safe place are also higher than ever. Over 1800 people lost their life trying to cross the Mediterranean over the last 6 months of 2015. The majority of them were fleeing Syria and Eritrea. In South-East Asia a refugee drama is taking place. In barely seaworthy boats tens of thousands of Rohingya, one of the most persecuted minorities worldwide, tried to reach Malaysia and Indonesia in the last months.

One in two refugees is a child.  Many of them are born in refugee camps and denied a birth registration and nationality. Around the world, many of the refugee children do not access education, health care and enter harmful work to maintain themselves and their families.

In the ongoing Syrian civil war 6 million Syrians had to flee their country – still, the European Union hosts only 6% of these refugees as compared to 1.3 million living in Lebanon and 2 million in Turkey. In the European Union, in 2014, out of the total number of asylum applications, 25% were coming from children. 1.200.000 Syrians living in Turkey are under 18 years old. Despite the relatively limited numbers and the developed child protection system within the EU, much more needs to be done to ensure the rights of refugee children.

“The stories of children arriving at the coasts of Italy are difficult even to hear, they are unbelievable”- says Raffaele Salinari, Chair of Terre des Hommes International Federation.

According to Italian Government official data, as of the end of March 2015 over 12.600 unaccompanied minors were residing in Italy – more than 3.500 of them being untraceable after having escaped from social services facilities, confirming the worrying phenomenon of children disappearing.

“This is confirming the loopholes of the reception system in Italy”, affirmed Alessandra Ballerini, lawyer and consultant for Terre des Hommes in Italy.

“Many of these children have experienced violence in their countries of origin and have been severely traumatized on their way to Europe. They need fast and qualified help, but unfortunately there are too few adequate facilities and experts for psychotherapeutic treatments available” says Danuta Sacher,  member of the Board and Head of Terre des Hommes Germany.

“We face increased xenophobia against foreigners in Europe and this affects also refugee and migrant children. Moreover, children seeking asylum can often end up in immigration detention either because they fled with their families, or, when unaccompanied, while awaiting their age assessment” says Ignacio Packer, Secretary General, Terre des Hommes International Federation.

As a child rights organisation Terre des Hommes supports refugee children and advocates for their rights world-wide. Terre des Hommes provides humanitarian aid, psychosocial and legal support to asylum seekers and refugee children in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Italy among others. It also supports NGO partners who support refugee children in Cyprus, Greece and Malta. In addition, Terre des Hommes member organisations and their partners active in the Destination Unknown campaign advocate for better protection of refugee children.

On this international day of refugee protection, we call for :

  • Renewed efforts to address the root causes of forced displacement, including political solution for ongoing crises in the Middle East and improving human rights standards including minority rights;
  • Fight xenophobia, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against foreigners, in particular children any youth, including refugees worldwide;
  • More solidarity and support by European states towards other countries hosting the larger number of today’s world refugees as are Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey;
  • More solidarity between all European countries and further investment in all of them to ensure that child refugees access the rights they are entitled to, including specialised services such as legal guardians and psychosocial support;
  • An end to child immigration detention worldwide.


Half of the world’s refugees are children. Many of these child refugees spend significant time in detention. Terre des Hommes is part of the Ending Child Immigration Campaign, which on Refugee Day calls to put an end to the ‪‎detention‬ of migrant ‪children‬ worldwide.

Read more On Human Rights of Migrants 



  1. Terre des Hommes’ oral statement
  2. Terre des Hommes’ written statement
  3. Press release:  A look ahead: The 29th session of the Human Rights Council from a European Union perspective
  4. The statements of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and of the Special Rapporteur François Crépeau at the UN HRC 29th session, on 16th June 2015.
  5. OHCHR PR on the Special Rapporteur François Crépeau’s statement at the UN HRC
  6. The full report of François Crépeau plus all other statements at the 29th session of the UN HRC are available here
  7. Terre des Hommes supports Rohingya in Indonesia