UN: 19 million children displaced by conflict in 2019

A Unicef report said there has been a steep increase in the number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, as a result of conflict and violence

epa08401645 Yemenis wait to get free food rations from a charity group in Sana'a, Yemen, 04 May 2020. According to reports, nearly 80 percent of Yemen's 27 million-population rely on humanitarian aid while half of the population faces famine due to a prolonged conflict that triggered what is considered to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
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The United Nation children’s agency said on Tuesday that an estimated 19 million of children fled violence and conflict last year but remained in their home country, and millions more were displaced by disasters.

A Unicef report said there has been a steep increase in the number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, as a result of conflict and violence, from 25 million a decade ago to more than 40 million in the last five years. And last year more than 40 per cent of the displaced were under the age of 18, it said.

“Millions of displaced children around the world are already going without proper care and protection,” Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement. “When new crises emerge, like the Covid-19 pandemic, these children are especially vulnerable.”

Almost 33 million new displacements were recorded in 2019 — around 25 million due to natural disasters and 8.5 million due to conflict and violence, according to the report. That included 12 million children — 3.8 million displaced by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million by disasters linked mostly to weather-related events like flooding and storms, it said.

Unicef said coronavirus pandemic is making a critical situation for displaced children and families even worse this year.

The report, ‘Lost at Home,’ says children who are displaced lack access to basic services and are at risk of exposure to violence, exploitation, abuse, trafficking, child labor, child marriage and family separation. It calls for strategic investments and a united effort from governments, civil society, the private sector, humanitarian groups and children themselves to tackle these issues.

The report echoed a similar one last week from the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which said the highest total number of internally displaced people ever was recorded last year at 50.8 million people around the world.

Annual statistics released said that conflict and violence alone in 2019 displaced 45.7 million across 61 countries, and a further 5.1 million had been displaced by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and extreme weather.

The total is 10 million more than in 2018, with Syria, the country with the highest number of displacements from conflict, also seeing more people flee their homes in 2019 than in the year before at almost 1.9 million.