• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Refugee children in Mexico inspire a book to fight prejudice

News Stories, 27 October 2006

© UNHCR/M.Echandi
At a party at Mexico City's Human Rights Commission, refugee children play games designed to teach them their rights.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, October 27 (UNHCR) Their eyes wide with anticipation, more than 40 children, both refugees and Mexicans, sat down on the floor as the storyteller began to read: "This is the story of Yaro and his family ... about them leaving their home because of the war, and how they came to Kipatla to start a new life.... "

The refugee children were not only the guests of honour at this party last week at the Mexico City's Human Rights Commission; they were the inspiration for the book being read. Titled "Ndagu para Yaro" (A House for Yaro), the children's book was produced by the Mexican National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED).

It is part of a series of stories for children aimed at promoting tolerance and non-discrimination towards those who are different from us. The party for the children and their parents was organized by UNHCR, CONAPRED, and UNHCR's partners, Sin Fronteras and Amnesty International Mexico.

The children, aged five to 17 years, not only listened to the story but also played games designed to teach them their rights. At the same time, their parents attended a workshop on how to present discrimination complaints to CONAPRED.

"Ndagu para Yaro" tells the story of the discrimination faced by a refugee family, and also describes how the children are able to make adults overcome their prejudice against refugees.

"All the stories take place in Kipatla, which is a place that exists, but at the same time it doesn't exist yet," explained author Nuria Gómez. "It is a place that is changing. Kipatla means 'what has changed' in Nahuatl [a language of the Ancient Aztecs]. It's a place where people are learning to treat everyone the same."

As she was writing the book, Gómez met refugee children who regularly play at the Refugee Park and asked them about the reasons why they had left their homes. "Each one of them helped me write the story of Yaro," she said.

The playground session inspired Gómez's contribution to the Kipatla, series. Kipatla, she added, "exists in the backyard of a school where children of different races play together. Kipatla is shaped every time each one of us makes an effort to change our hearts and our minds to create a better global community."

By Mariana Echandi in Mexico City, Mexico

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

The 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol

The most frequently asked questions about the treaty and its protocol.

Children

Almost half the people of concern to UNHCR are children. They need special care.

Refworld – Children

This Special Feature on Child Protection is a comprehensive source of relevant legal and policy documents, practical tools and links to related websites.

Prominent Refugees

An A-Z of refugee achievers around the world.

To Be a Refugee

Related news stories to Unit plan for ages 9-11 in Human Rights and Refugees: To Be a Refugee

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

The Children of Harmanli Face a Bleak Winter

Since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011, more than 2 million people have fled the violence. Many have made their way to European Union countries, finding sanctuary in places like Germany and Sweden. Others are venturing into Europe by way of Bulgaria, where the authorities struggle to accommodate and care for some 8,000 asylum-seekers, many of whom are Syrian. More than 1,000 of these desperate people, including 300 children, languish in an overcrowded camp in the town of Harmanli, 50 kilometres from the Turkish-Bulgarian border. These people crossed the border in the hope of starting a new life in Europe. Some have travelled in family groups; many have come alone with dreams of reuniting in Europe with loved ones; and still others are unaccompanied children. The sheer number of people in Harmanli is taxing the ability of officials to process them, let alone shelter and feed them. This photo essay explores the daily challenges of life in Harmanli.

The Children of Harmanli Face a Bleak Winter

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

Some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are children who have sought shelter in urban areas with their families. Unlike those in camps, refugees living in towns and cities in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Jordan often find it difficult to gain access to aid and protection. In a refugee camp, it is easier for humanitarian aid organizations such as UNHCR to provide shelter and regular assistance, including food, health care and education. Finding refugees in urban areas, let alone helping them, is no easy task.

In Iraq, about 100,000 of the 143,000 Syrian refugees are believed to be living in urban areas - some 40 per cent of them are children aged under 18 years. The following photographs, taken in the northern city of Erbil by Brian Sokol, give a glimpse into the lives of some of these young urban refugees. They show the harshness of daily life as well as the resilience, adaptability and spirit of young people whose lives have been overturned in the past two years.

Life is difficult in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The cost of living is high and it is difficult to find work. The refugees must also spend a large part of their limited resources on rent. UNHCR and its partners, including the Kurdish Regional Government, struggle to help the needy.

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.
Ethiopia: Far From Home Play video

Ethiopia: Far From Home

Nyabuka Lam arrived in Pagak, Ethiopia in September after escaping armed men who shot her three children and husband back in her home country, South Sudan. After walking for 15 days to reach the safety of Pagak, she is now finally on a path to recovery.
South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's ChildrenPlay video

South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's Children

Years of violence and bloodshed in South Sudan robbed Abuk of her seven children. When fighting returned last year, the old lady fled anew with her grandchildren, hampered by deteriorating eyesight.