Refugees & Fragile States

82.4 million children and families have been forcibly displaced from their homes. These are the largest numbers of refugees and displaced people since World War II. The vast majority of them come from “fragile states”, where families and communities are affected by disasters, economic crises, conflict, and social upheaval.  By 2030, an estimated 80% of the world’s extreme poor (living on less than $1.90 a day) will live in these fragile places with weak governance and disrupted public services, like education, health, and clean water.  World Vision has worked in fragile states for over three decades to provide life-saving support and durable solutions for the world’s most vulnerable children.

Helping refugees from Ukraine during a time of crisis

Learn how World Vision is caring for Ukrainian refugees as well as people in neighboring countries who are opening their homes, volunteering to serve, and working to create a sense of home in this time of trouble.

Voices of Rohingya refugees: Praying through the crisis

Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar share moments of their lives — beyond the tragedies they’ve endured — since fleeing their homes in Myanmar. Join us in praying through their stories as they continue to face challenges and look for hope during this prolonged crisis.

Never expecting to be called “refugee”

In the early days of the Ukraine crisis, mothers wanted to stay in Ukraine, but as violence escalated, they finally felt forced to flee. They share their stories of the problems and help they found along their journey.

People in 38 of the 58

most fragile areas receive support through our long- and short-term programming.

5,000 World Vision advocates

contacted Congress to oppose proposed 30% cuts to the foreign affairs budget, which funds lifesaving programs in the most difficult places, with success.

3.5 million refugees and displaced people

have been assisted by our staff in fiscal year 2019.

Our Approach

What is a refugee?

Refugees are people who had to flee their home country due to war, violence, or persecution, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Refugees are different from immigrants because refugees cannot go home, or are afraid that it is not safe to return. Displaced people have had to leave their homes for the same reason as a refugee, but they are still living within their home country. World Vision works with both refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the most fragile places, including Syria, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why does World Vision work in fragile places?

We go where humanitarian and development needs are high. If estimates hold true, by 2030, around 80% of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile states. What’s more alarming is that extreme poverty has a child’s face: the majority of people in fragile contexts are young. As a child-focused organization, we have a clear call to help the most vulnerable children — those who live in fragile states and who are increasingly forced to flee instability within and across borders as refugees.

What programs are most effective in helping families in these situations?

Programs that provide basic necessities while boosting a community’s resilience and self-reliance in the face of disasters and destitution are most effective.  Direct assistance for children, households, and communities make a big impact in fragile states, since their governments are often unable to provide basic services. To be most effective, programs need to empower communities and work through local organizations, including churches, mothers’ groups, and farmers’ associations, so that they build local capacity while providing assistance. Programs should also help governments assume responsibility, over time, for service delivery and social protection.

How does World Vision’s work help?

We have worked in the majority of the world’s fragile states for more than 30 years. We know what types of programs work in these contexts, and more importantly, we have longstanding relationships and trust with the communities we serve. Our big focus in fragile states is on developing new approaches to enable transition out of fragility, especially in program areas where we are strong: water, sanitation, and hygiene; health; livelihoods and food assistance; and child protection, and education. By integrating all these programs, we help to provide communities with what they need most. But no single group or organization can tackle fragility alone, so we partner with churches, donor governments, corporations, and individual supporters across the globe, in addition to local communities, faith bodies, civil society, and public institutions where we work.

Ultimately, our successful programs empower refugees and displaced people and cultivate ingenuity and resilience, so that communities have the know-how, the confidence, and the ability to help themselves and care for their children.

How quickly can a fragile nation move toward resilience?

The journey can take decades, but we don’t have to wait that long to help change children’s lives. We are seeing communities achieve better health, education, livelihoods, nutrition, and gender equality. And while the road is long, sustained donor support is making a difference in the most fragile places.

Refugees and Fragile State Resources

SomRep Positive Deviance Study (pdf)

This study of our emergency response in Somalia found belonging to a savings group and participating in preparedness and early warning activities were consistently related to both community identification of successful coping as well as food security status.

3 ways you can help refugees and those living in fragile contexts

Ways to Give

Give monthly to the Refugee Children’s Crisis Fund: $25+

Your monthly gift will provide life-saving essentials like access to healthcare, clean water and nutritious food along with emergency supplies and safe places for children to play and learn.

Sponsor a child in a fragile
context: $39

Ways to Give

Give monthly to the Refugee Children’s Crisis Fund: $25+

Your monthly gift will provide life-saving essentials like access to healthcare, clean water and nutritious food along with emergency supplies and safe places for children to play and learn.

Feed a refugee child for a month: $38

With the help of people like you, World Vision is at work in the most broken places—like Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Your gift of a Refugee Food Kit can help provide families with desperately needed emergency food.

We work hand in hand with each community to address their unique needs — and achieve lasting change.

Choose one and see how our work gets done.


Poverty in America

Economic empowerment

Clean water


Christian faith

Disaster relief

Child protection

Gender equality

Disability inclusion

Refugees & fragile states

Child sponsorship