Children Caught Up in Migration and Refugee Emergency
According to UNICEF, one child in ten is growing up in a conflict zone. Many are forced to flee, either with their families, or unaccompanied, becoming even more vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Dozens have tragically lost their lives in the Mediterranean en route to Europe.
The number of children arriving on Europe’s shores has doubled from last year. Over 190,000 sought asylum in the European Union between January and September in 2015, compared to 98,000 in the same period in 2014.
Trauma caused by losses, separations, persecution and physical and mental threats will impact their lives for years to come and some may never fully recover.
A study of 166 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents living in Belgium showed that between 37% - 47% of them had severe or very severe symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)
Migrants are in a highly vulnerable situation and procedures for dealing with asylum seekers may contribute to high level of stress and emotional symptoms in previously traumatized migrant children.
Below is a series of photos by IOM’s Amanda Nero of children caught up in the current migration crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos.
A Syrian boy at Kara Tepe transit camp in Lesbos, Greece. The top five countries of origin of unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe are Eritrea, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria and Gambia. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
Amir, aged 3, at the Moria reception centre in Lesbos, Greece. He came from Afghanistan with his mother, father and two siblings. His sister, aged 15, wants to become a doctor. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
Amir plays with his younger sister at the Moria reception centre, as the family waits for the papers that will enable them to transit Greece and travel to Germany. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
Milika, aged 4, from Aghanistan, plays with her mother’s shoes at the Moria transit centre in Lesbos, Greece. Her uncle, aged 20, wants to study economics in Europe. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
A child plays with a balloon at the Moria reception centre in Lesbos, Greece. Registration and arranging transport off the island takes time. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
A little boy plays in an abandoned boat near the Moria transit centre in Lesbos, Greece. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
A child plays with a balloon on a rocky hillside near the Moria transit centre in Lesbos, Greece. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015
Migrant children entertain themselves with toys made from flotsam at the Moria transit centre in Lesbos, Greece. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015