Nearly 50 million children are fleeing war, violence, poverty or natural disasters. Never before have so many children been on the run, says UNICEF children's rights organization on Monday morning.
The problem is particularly acute in the Middle East; his 8.8 million children are fleeing there. Most fleeing children come from Syria: 2.5 million, UNICEF reports.
"Where there is conflict, children are often the first and biggest victims," says Geert Cappelaere, who worked for UNICEF in the Middle East for ten years and experienced many wars up close. "Children find it difficult to give war a place in their world. In the meantime, they experience unprecedented atrocities. It is difficult for adults to give it a place, but for children at all."
Nine out of ten children who have fled are currently being cared for in the region, the children's rights organization says. Lebanon and Jordan in particular offer shelter. In Lebanon, more than half of Syrian refugees are under the age of eighteen.
UNICEF is very concerned about the fate of all these families and children. "Certainly with the winter and the freezing cold approaching," says Cappelaere. "When winter falls in these countries, the children have a hard time. They have to survive without electricity or closed shoes to walk on." He calls on government leaders to stop the child suffering.