Lebanon / ©photo KRISTÓF HÖLVÉNYI

More than 40 million children in the world are refugees.

Many of them have been forced to leave their homes because of war or violence. The war in Ukraine has led to a huge exodus of people to Europe, over 5 million to date, half of which are children.

The war in Syria, now in its 11th year, has caused 6.6 million people – almost half of which are boys and girls – to flee to neighbouring countries like Lebanon.

There are two realities that must be added to the rest of the armed conflicts in the world – of which there are 10 at present – that must make us focus on children, both those who have had to flee, as well as those who suffer the terror of war in situ.

Armed conflict has a devastating effect on childhood.

  • Murder and mutilation.
  • Abuse and sexual violence, in particular when it comes to girls, who also risk becoming victims of human trafficking.
  • Recruitment by armed groups: in countries with ongoing armed conflicts, many boys and girls are recruited and forced to fight.
  • Serious psychological trauma because of the horrors of war and the loss of family members.
  • The impossibility of accessing education and healthcare. In armed conflicts, schools and hospitals are often military targets and subject to attack, preventing children from continuing with their education and having access to health services.
  • Famine.

Lebanon / ©photo KRISTÓF HÖLVÉNYI

D.R.C. / ©photo IRENE GALERA

Colombia / ©photo SERGI CÁMARA

When displaced, they continue to face many of these risks. In situations of emergency, it is crucial to protect the childhoods of girls and boys to ensure they have a safe space – far away from violence – where they can play, learn and grow.
School offers tools to protect them: psychosocial attention to overcome the traumas and illnesses caused by war; daily meals; and a peaceful space of coexistence where their lives are safe.

Education is refuge.