Forced To Flee: Refugee Children Drawing On Their Experiences

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© UNHCR / Hachette

Over half of the world’s 24.5 million refugees are children. Through no fault of their own, many will spend their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families and friends.

Yet children are also resilient. By learning, playing and exploring their world, they often find ways to cope with trauma, drawing strength from their families and those around them. Psychological support and education can help children rebuild their lives.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Franklin Watts have published Forced to Flee, a unique book in which refugee children explain, in their own words and pictures, their thoughts, feelings and experiences about being forced to flee their homes for safety.

It focuses on three very different countries or regions that have produced large numbers of refugees in recent years, namely Syria, South Sudan and Central America.

UNHCR asked a handful of children in those regions to draw pictures that reflect their experiences of being driven from home. Most of the pictures are sad, reflecting the pain and loss caused by conflict and displacement. Yet in some, there are glimpses of colour and hope.

A selection of the drawings can be found in the photo gallery below.

On sale in hardback from 25th June, you can pre-order the book here.

  • This artwork is by Cesar, 7, who fled from El Salvador through Guatemala to Mexico.
    This artwork is by Cesar, 7, who fled from El Salvador through Guatemala to Mexico. © Cesar, aged 7
  • My name is Mohammad. I am 16 years old. In 2013, I left Syria for Lebanon fleeing the war that
almost killed my future, my dreams and ambitions. I had finished the fifth grade in Syria and then a
year went by where I did not receive any education or knowledge.
    My name is Mohammad. I am 16 years old. In 2013, I left Syria for Lebanon fleeing the war that almost killed my future, my dreams and ambitions. I had finished the fifth grade in Syria and then a year went by where I did not receive any education or knowledge. © Mohammad, aged 16
  • I am Mohammad. I am 14 years old, one of the millions of victims of the cursed war that caused destruction to my country and forced its citizens to leave. My family is made up of me, my father, mother and three sisters. There is nothing harder for a person than to lose his or her country and
home ... We are broken without refuge, we are a generation that faced the hardest times, as no one ever will. No one can feel what we are feeling. A person does not know the meaning of suffering and homelessness until he gets a taste of it himself.
    I am Mohammad. I am 14 years old, one of the millions of victims of the cursed war that caused destruction to my country and forced its citizens to leave. My family is made up of me, my father, mother and three sisters. There is nothing harder for a person than to lose his or her country and home ... We are broken without refuge, we are a generation that faced the hardest times, as no one ever will. No one can feel what we are feeling. A person does not know the meaning of suffering and homelessness until he gets a taste of it himself. © Mohammad, aged 14
  • My name is Abrar. I am 11 years old. I was forced to flee my beloved country Syria because of the bombings and the bullets
    My name is Abrar. I am 11 years old. I was forced to flee my beloved country Syria because of the bombings and the bullets © Abrar, aged 11
  • "My name is Hala. I am 15 years old. I love Syria and I hope that the war ends, and that Syria flourishes again as it once did."
    "My name is Hala. I am 15 years old. I love Syria and I hope that the war ends, and that Syria flourishes again as it once did." © Hala, aged 15
  • My name is Nyaluak. In this picture, this woman has a baby. She said 'Oh my God, help me.' The girl is crying because a soldier killed her father. That is why she is running to a policeman.
    My name is Nyaluak. In this picture, this woman has a baby. She said 'Oh my God, help me.' The girl is crying because a soldier killed her father. That is why she is running to a policeman. © Nyaluak

This book is intended to serve as an educational resource for young students and an introduction to the global refugee crisis, explaining who refugees are, why they are forced to flee their homes and seek international protection, and the role of UNHCR and its partners in supporting them.

 

Additional supporting information can be found below. 

UNHCR Children

UNHCR Youth

UNHCR Education

UNHCR’s latest education report, 'Stepping Up'

Up-to-date information about the places in this book as well as information about other global refugee crises:
Syria Emergency 
South Sudan Emergency
The Americas

Produced in association with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and with a foreword from Cate Blanchett, Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, this highly emotive title focuses on three current refugee crises in Syria, South Sudan and Central America.  © UNHCR/Hachette