Alone and Afraid
Amongst the 22.5 million refugees in the world, half of them are children. More and more children are fleeing from conflict torn countries on their own. Others are becoming orphaned, lost or separated from their families while searching for safe refuge.
UNHCR is often the first to spot these children as they come across borders or arrive alone in refugee camps. Our protection officers listen to their stories and ensure that they have safe accommodation, trained staff to care for them, nutritious food, health checks, counselling, education and ongoing care. We share information across the region and around the globe to help trace missing relatives and arrange for family reunion.
Let’s look at Anna’s story ─ South Sudan: When Bullets Fly
There is no time to think when gunfire erupts. Especially when you are a 12-year-old child.
It was the middle of the night when the gunmen came. As the sound of machines guns ripped through the air, ever closer to her village in the Jonglei State of South Sudan, what Anna (nor her real name) initially thought was just a bad dream quickly turned into an absolute nightmare.
Scared for her life as screams of pain and despair filled the quiet African night, she did the only thing a child her age could do: run away. But in a night where chaos reigned and neighbours died, she quickly lost her parents in her desperate flight for safety.
Afraid, starving and alone, she saw once familiar surroundings transformed into a warzone overnight as she roamed the countryside in a frantic search for shelter, food and safety. Rattled by the proximity of wild animals, horrified by putrescent piles of decomposing bodies and terrified by the sound of constant fighting, she rapidly grew ill and weak.
Still unable to fully comprehend what happened to her old life, Anna’s haggard eyes now stare at an uncertain future, made even darker by the possibility that her mother and father may well have died on the night war came to her village.
In regions torn apart by war and disaster, lone refugee children like Anna are the most vulnerable of all. They need food and clean water. But above all, they need to feel safe. Safe from violence and bloodshed. Safe enough to begin recovering from trauma, through comfort and counselling.
When a child like Anna has lost everyone she loves, will you help us protect her?
UNHCR works with national authorities, other international and local organisations to assist, protect and find solutions for displaced children.
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is enough to provide 36 refugees with blankets to keep them warm
can provide textbooks, exercise books and pencils for 30 refugee students for a year
can provide malaria medicines to 60 refugee children for a year