The forgotten child refugee crises – hunger, violence and death rates increase for refugees globally

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  • 82% of refugees and IDPs worldwide are not able to meet children’s basic survival needs, such as food, healthcare or rent
  • 1 in 4 have lost a family member, with almost half of those deaths due to COVID-19
  • Additional funding is needed for refugee families struggling to survive

SEATTLE (June 14, 2022) — A global report launched today by global humanitarian organization World Vision says that life for refugees in 11 countries around the world has deteriorated significantly within the past two years, especially for the children among them.

The report, titled “Hungry and Unprotected Children: The Forgotten Refugees,” surveyed refugees and internally displaced people from countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela and found that 82% are not able to meet children’s basic survival needs, such as food, healthcare or rent. More than a third of respondents (35%) reported that their children, who should be growing, had lost weight over the last 12 months.

“On this World Refugee Day, we are deeply concerned that the plight of refugees around the globe is growing worse, with the most vulnerable among them children – going hungry, without school and homes to call their own. In my travels to Bidibidi camp in northern Uganda, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, and to the borders of Venezuela and Ukraine, I’ve seen the struggle of kids and families who never wanted to leave the people they love and the places they know,” said Edgar Sandoval Sr., president and CEO of World Vision.

“With God’s help, World Vision is responding to their immense needs, standing with every child refugee in the world’s toughest places, but we urgently require additional funding to ensure they survive and reach their God-given potential.”

The safety of refugee children is also under threat, as many find it impossible to access the services they urgently need. With just 4% of child protection funded globally against the appealed amount, it is the least-funded humanitarian sector – and at a time when needs are increasing.

Half of refugee children do not have access to a safe shelter and 44% do not have access to other child protection services, a 13% increase from 2021. Many refugee and internally displaced children are missing out on education, along with the security and support of being in a classroom, with the number of families reporting that they do not have the resources to send their children to school doubling between 2021 and 2022.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, families around the world worried about their children missing out on education,” explained Justin Byworth, World Vision International’s Global Humanitarian Director. “But those worries were short-lived for many, as most children in the world’s wealthier countries have returned to school and normalcy. Unfortunately, for millions of refugee children, education is a fantasy of the past, one that they may never return to. Instead, many face a new reality of child marriage and child labor. The injustice is palpable.”

The global report also found that health had deteriorated for many refugees, with 1 in 4 of those surveyed reporting the death of a family member in the past year. Almost half of those deaths were due to COVID-19 as vaccine access remains inequitable. The world’s least wealthy countries have received just 1.4% of available vaccines since the pandemic began, with children getting the tiniest fraction of that small amount.

“As the world’s wealthiest nations move on from COVID-19 and declare the pandemic is in the past, millions of displaced people cannot access a vaccine and are still at high risk. It is a sad indictment on those with the means to help,” Byworth said.

World Vision is raising the alarm that as needs are increasing, funding is being cut, and is concerned that high visibility of the conflict in Ukraine threatens to divert much-needed humanitarian aid from other contexts where forcibly displaced people are struggling to survive. Donors are redirecting existing aid budgets toward Ukraine, cutting funding, cancelling grants, and increasing military spending.[I]

In March 2022, Denmark announced that it was redirecting 2 billion kroner ($279.8 million) of humanitarian aid aimed at some of the most pressing displacement crises, including Mali, Syria and Bangladesh, for refugees from Ukraine.[ii] The United Kingdom has so far redirected 220 million pounds ($276 million) of aid money to meet immediate humanitarian needs in Ukraine.[iii]

“As the world rightly reaches out to support refugees fleeing Ukraine, we urge those who have the political power to prioritize the lives of all refugees and internally displaced people globally, whose lives are continuing to get worse each year,” Byworth added.

“We fear that funds allocated to support refugees around the globe are now being diverted to those fleeing Ukraine, taking much-needed food and protection supports from children who are struggling to survive in refugee camps. All refugees need and deserve support, regardless of which country they fled. We urge donors to increase funds, rather than reallocate what has already been pledged, so that all refugees receive the support they need.”

 Notes to editor
[i] See: Oxfam, ‘Some Governments Contemplating Raids on Aid Funds Earmarked for Other Crises to Pay for New Costs of Ukrainian Support’, 18 March 2022, and Inter-Press Service, ‘War in Ukraine & Rise in Arms Spending Undermine Development Aid to the World’s Poor’, 15 April 2022,
[ii] The Local, ‘Four Countries Lose Danish Development Aid as Funds Diverted to Help Ukrainian Refugees’, 24 March 2022,
[iii] The Independent, ‘Ukraine War Pushing UK Aid Programmes to ‘Breaking Point’, Campaigners Warn’, 21 March 2022,

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 or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.