More people are now seeking refuge than at any other time since records began.
There are now 60 million people worldwide who’ve been forcibly displaced. Some 19 million are classified as refugees. Half of those are children. And according to a new report from the charity Save the Children, more than half of these child refugees are currently unable to get an education.
The report is calling for “A New Deal” for every forcibly displaced child. That means no child should be out of school for more than a month.
According to Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent, the plan is a “huge ambition.”
“Some would say it’s almost a dream and is unrealistic,” she says. “But unless the world starts to focus on this … there isn’t going to be enough concerted action to focus on this problem. And it’s a growing problem.”
“Education has to be up there as a basic need,” she adds. “It can’t be in the second tier of priorities.”
Doucet, who has been reporting on refugees around the world for decades, says that ensuring that child refugees get an education is going to be “exceptionally difficult,” particularly as it becomes harder for people to resettle in other countries.
Several weeks ago, she was in Calais, a French port city across the channel from Britain. There are estimated to be around 5,000 refugees in the town, trying to reach the UK. Many of them are children. “They find themselves stopped by many more fences, many more security forces. It’s an extremely dangerous journey,” says Doucet.
“Are they going to school? No, because they are up all night. They walk for about four hours a night. They run the gauntlet of trying to elude French security forces. They try to hide in the back of lorries or under the bottoms of trains.
“They fail night after night. They come back to the miserable camp. They sleep, get up, and get ready for the next day of trying to get to Britain.
“I’ve met kids there who have been trying for a year. That’s a year out of education.”
Doucet says that the new Save the Children report is another indication that the international refugee crisis is not a short-term problem, but something much more permanent.
“What is sinking in is that this is not an emergency anymore … With these long-term protracted conflicts [such as those in] Syria, Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Afghanistan … people do not see a future, and therefore they are fleeing.
“They are fleeing for their lives or they are fleeing because they want opportunities that they are denied in their own countries.
“So families are traveling not just for jobs, but for their children’s futures.”
By Joshua Kelly, PRI’s The World
This article is syndicated from PRI’s The World.