UN leaders Can No Longer Sit on the Fence; Children’s Lives are at Stake

Families live in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, after fleeing their homes due to the Syria conflict. PHOTO: World Vision/Jon Warren

NEW YORK (September 16, 2016) ¬ For children suffering the effects of adult wars, next week represents the best chance of hope many have had in years.

“The Refugees and Migrants Summit (Sept 19) can and should make a huge difference to children forced to flee their homes because of war, poverty or persecution, ” says World Vision‘s President Kevin Jenkins, in New York during the summit. In particular, the 6.6 million people displaced within Syria and the 4.8 million who’ve sought refuge in other countries by often risky and desperate means. The biggest barrier to addressing the root causes of this problem has been the lack of political will.

World Vision says world leaders risk seriously failing the world’s most vulnerable children.

“Politics and bureaucracy should never get in the way of helping a scared, lonely child. All children deserve a bright future.”

Nearly 50 million children around the world have been forced to flee their homes or migrate, according to a report released last week by UNICEF. Despite the shocking numbers and an agreement by governments that something must be done, the current system is not working.

“At the moment, we are trying to address an extraordinary problem with yesterday’s solutions – and it’s not working. It’s not helping millions of children living in limbo‚” says Jenkins.

Among them is 16-year-old Hussam, a refugee now living in Jordan. His family fled Syria with the help of smugglers when his classroom was bombed during a lesson. “I found my best friend Majid in the rubble. My teacher was also killed. I haven’t been to school for two years.”

Leaders must honour funding pledges, provide safe haven for all vulnerable children and ensure the most basic rights of children in transit are met.

“We have seen strong leadership from countries like Germany and Canada, who have welcomed and attempted to integrate refugee children and their families,” says Jenkins.

“We have seen great promises from countries like the UK to support unaccompanied children. We now need to see such pledges honoured, and others to echo them. It is neither fair nor realistic for a small handful of countries – like Lebanon and Jordan – to continue shouldering the burden alone.”

The pace of change is too slow, says Jenkins.

“While we’ve been waiting for commitments to be made in this important meeting, children and families have been languishing in refugee camps and temporary settlements. Child labour, early marriage, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation and violence against children have run rife.

“While leaders sit on the fence, children suffer. This isn’t good enough, children deserve better.”


About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.


  • Nearly 50 million children are depending on leaders at UN summit to commit to concrete actions to address the issues causing children to flee their homes
  • Aid and development agency World Vision says political inaction has gone on long enough
  • While governments stall, more children fall victim to exploitation and violence