In search of hope

Risking it all to flee conflict and hardship

Some 30 million children worldwide have left their homes behind, fleeing conflict and hardship in search of safety and hope for a brighter future.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2391/Romenzi

Greece, 2015: Asylum-seekers from the Syrian Arab Republic arrive on the shores of the island of Lesbos. Thus far in 2015, over 442,440 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, according to UNHCR. More than 2,920 people have died trying to make the perilous journey.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2164/Georgiev

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: Nearly one in four people who have arrived on Europe’s shores are children. On a rainy day near the town of Gevgelija, on the border with Greece, a boy takes a moment to rest, with other people who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis in Europe nearby.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2181/Georgiev

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: People who have fled their homes gather in Gevgelija. For children, gruelling journeys only compound the trauma of horrors witnessed at home. Many children now in Europe find themselves in overcrowded conditions, often sleeping in the open — auguring a rise in disease as winter approaches.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2170/Georgiev

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: Abandoned children’s items, in Gevgelija. The situation unfolding in Europe is only one facet of a larger global crisis: With conflicts growing in number and scope, there are now more people on the run worldwide than at any moment since World War II.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–1655/Romenzi

Libya, 2015: (Foreground) Natnahel, 14, like many fellow detainees in a Tripoli detention centre for undocumented migrants, contracted a skin disease in his cell. He left Eritrea one year ago then waited three months with 300 other migrants in an abandoned facility before boarding a boat for Europe, but the vessel was intercepted.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–1424/Mendel

Italy, 2015: Girls and women from Eritrea awaiting medical check-ups in Sicily are among over 3,000 undocumented migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian navy during a single weekend. Many completed the long, arduous journey crammed into unseaworthy vessels by smugglers who forced them to turn over their documents and possessions.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–1997/Esiebo

Nigeria, 2015: Children play at a UNICEF-supported safe space in the Dalori camp for internally displaced people, in the north-eastern Borno State. Over 1.4 million children in north-eastern Nigeria and in neighbouring countries have been uprooted because of violence carried about by the armed group Boko Haram.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2014–1289/Pflanz

South Sudan, 2014: Women receive food and cooking oil during a 2014 mission to reach remote areas with desperately needed services and supplies. Some 2.2 million people have fled their homes since violence broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, and renewed fighting in recent months has cut off hundreds of thousands from humanitarian aid.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012–0620/Ose

Ethiopia, 2012: Adow Issack Raman, 13, looks out the window of a bus taking him to join relatives already living in the Kobe refugee camp. He left his immediate family behind in Somalia with the hope of continuing his education. In the preceding year, Adow had attended only one month of classes due to school closures.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012–0588/Ose

Ethiopia, 2012: Recently arrived Somali refugees are transported to a transit centre in Somali Region. Caring for the immediate needs of refugees — wherever they are — is paramount, but a long-term resolution to the global crisis can only be achieved by ending the conflicts uprooting so many children and their families.

View the photo essay Facing an uncertain future.

View the photo essay In Greece, a sea of arrivals.

Learn more about the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

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UNICEF photography advocates for children through visual evidence and storytelling in support of their rights. UNICEF saves children's lives, defends their rights, and helps them fulfill their potential. We never give up. UNICEF, for every child.

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UNICEF

UNICEF

UNICEF saves children’s lives, defends their rights, and helps them fulfill their potential. We never give up. UNICEF, for every child.

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