Plan Canada calls for urgent action to help the world’s 30 million refugee children

TORONTO, CANADA, September 5, 2015 – With the devastating photos and harrowing stories of refugees in Europe this week, Plan Canada is urging the global community to take urgent, collective and decisive action to address all forced migration and the underlying causes driving these desperate journeys. Children face a particularly dire need for help, make up over half of the world’s 59.5 million refugees and are among the most vulnerable.

“Children are dying and more will die unless world leaders take action,” said Marie Staunton, interim President and CEO, Plan Canada. “All international efforts directed at addressing the refugee crisis must prioritize children’s safety and welfare. Regardless of their status as migrants or refugees, all children must be cared for and their rights protected.”

In addition to the risks to their lives, made clear through the headlines this week, refugee children also face potential for abuse, neglect, exploitation, as well as the trauma of experiencing or witnessing violence. They can be deprived of their education, and they often desperately need psychosocial support and protection, especially if they become separated from their families.

Never before has the world seen so many refugees – 59.5 million according to a UN report released in June 2015. Half of them are children, and the numbers are growing daily. So far this year alone, 3,641 migrants have died, according to the International Organization for Migration, including 2,664 in the Mediterranean. “The situation unfolding in Europe this week is heartbreaking. The global community must stand up to address the urgent needs of all refugees, including the millions in camps and elsewhere outside the spotlight, as well as the underlying causes of forced migration, ranging from poverty to violence and conflict,” said Staunton.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right of all people ‘to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.’ All refugees require, deserve, and are entitled to a humanitarian response from all the nations of the world. Canada and the global community must do more to expedite and increase resettlement of refugee children and their families within safe and secure environments. The international community must also ensure greater humanitarian support for refugees in countries bordering Syria.”

Plan is helping refugee children across the globe through access to safe spaces, education, healthcare and basic necessities, and medicine, medical equipment and training for the health workers who are struggling to treat injured children in damaged hospitals.

“Plan International was founded in response to the plight of girls and boys orphaned by the Spanish civil war,” continued Staunton. “For over 77 years we’ve been supporting children whose lives have been torn apart by conflict, and our decades of experience have shown that the global community needs to invest in and support families so they can in turn protect their children.”

Canadians wishing to support Plan’s emergency relief efforts can visit plancanada.ca/emergency-appeals.

About Plan and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan’s global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty. Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

Media contacts

Dena Allen, Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext. 326 | C: 416-723-6340 | dallen@plancanada.ca

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