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© UNHCR/B.Heger/January 2006

Protection and Building Resilience

Almost half of the world’s forcibly displaced people are children and many spend their entire childhood far from home. Whether they are refugees, internally displaced, asylum-seekers or stateless, children are at a greater risk of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, trafficking or forced military recruitment. They may also have witnessed or experienced violent acts and/or been separated from their families.

However, children are highly resilient and find ways to cope and draw strength from their families and communities. By learning, playing and having space to explore their talents and skills, children can be active members of the community. UNHCR promotes the participation of children in the design and delivery of protection and assistance measures.

The UN refugee agency works to protect children of concern in partnership with children themselves, their communities, national authorities and relevant local and international groups, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and non-governmental organizations. This includes, for example, conducting best interest assessments for vulnerable children, ensuring that unaccompanied or separated children have access to family tracing and reunification services, and engaging children through activities and education that build their skills and capacities.

UNHCR promotes non-discriminatory access for all children of concern to national child protection systems and is committed, in the spirit of partnership, to strengthening these systems where gaps exist.

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Refworld – Children

This Special Feature on Child Protection is a comprehensive source of relevant legal and policy documents, practical tools and links to related websites.

Refugee Youth: Facing the future

They have seen atrocities many people cannot imagine, survived trauma most of their peers will never experience. Caught between adult burdens and childhood innocence, refugee youth around the world have continued to face the future with hope and courage.

In 2003, UNHCR dedicated World Refugee Day to refugee youth, spotlighting their plight and needs while celebrating their strengths and potential to help themselves and their communities.

This gallery looks at young refugees and how they attempt to cope with life during or after exile. From the Bosnian teenager finding her home destroyed, to the boy seeing his native Eritrea for the first time. From the displaced Liberian girl juggling daily chores with her baby brother, to the young returnees attending school in Vietnam. No matter how dire the situation, these young refugees have embraced the future with optimism and enthusiasm, their only hope in escaping the trap of exile and poverty.

Refugee Youth: Facing the future