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Child refugee crisis: What we’re doing to help

Save the Children Refugee Response Countries

So far this year, more than half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean – that’s nearly 3 times more than in 2014.

1 in 5 of those arriving by sea are children.

We’re doing whatever it takes to help child refugees and their families. Our teams work across the whole route that refugees take as well as in the countries they are fleeing and settling in.

Here’s some of the work we’re doing to support refugees and those living in war-torn countries.


In Calais, around 3,500 people are living in appalling makeshift conditions in a camp known as the ‘Jungle’. 730 children have travelled alone to the UK and arrived in Kent.

  • In Calais, we’ll be working with partners to provide counselling to children and make sure that they’re protected. We also plan to offer child protection training to organisations working in the camp.
  • In Kent, we’re training foster carers and those working with young refugees.

Please donate now to the Child Refugee Crisis Appeal


Since Hungary closed its borders, we’ve been working at the refugees’ next entry point – Croatia – to provide aid.

  • We’ve set up a mother and baby tent on the border, where mothers can breast feed and change their baby’s nappy
  • We’re providing warm clothes for children and babies as the temperature drops
  • Working with other agencies, we’re reuniting children who have travelled on their own, with their families
Save the Children Child Refugee Crisis What We're Doing
A Save the Children staff member takes care of children at Tovanik train station on the Croatian border, where some families have been separated in the process of loading buses to move the refugees along.


An estimated 11,700 refugees and migrants entered Denmark in the last 3 weeks of September alone.

  • We provide safe spaces where children can play and receive emotional support
  • We’re also working with other services to address child protection issues


Most of the 4 million people who’ve fled Syria are in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Many refugee families arrived in these countries expecting to return home after a few months, but have now been living in camps for years.

In Lebanon, 1 in 4 people is a Syrian refugee. Iraq is trying to cope with its own brutal civil war, with millions there internally displaced.

  • We’re running spaces where children can learn, play and simply be children again
  • We’re providing food baskets and vouchers
  • As winter approaches, we’re also distributing warm clothing and blankets
Save the
A Syrian mother and her daughters walks along the train tracks running from Serbia into Roszke, Hungary.


About 12,000 people have sought asylum in Finland this year. More than 800 of these are children who have arrived alone – with no family.

  • Our staff in Finland are providing help for children who have arrived alone on trains and at stations in the Helsinki region – ensuring that they can get to reception centres that are specifically for children
  • We’re also distributing warm clothes


At the start of the year there were already 147,000 child refugees living in Germany – 17,000 had arrived alone. Germany expects 800,000 refugees by the end of 2015.

  • We have 6 reception centres to help child refugees who’ve just arrived in the country
  • We support smaller organisations to ensure that refugees’ voices are heard and strengthen child protection practices


Syrian refugee in Lesvos camp
A young Syrian girl looks on at new arrivals to the informal camp Kara Tepe on the Greek island of Lesvos.


Greece is facing a humanitarian emergency – it has received almost 380,000 refugees this year. Currently between 3,000 and 5,000 refugees and migrants arrive each day.

  • Our priority in Greece is to protect children in refugee camps – ensuring that they’re physically safe and have enough food and shelter
  • As well as distributing basics, we’ve also started providing items such as soap, sanitary pads, shampoo, toilet paper and simple food items such as crackers and tea
  • We’re transporting those arriving in the country to registration points, to ensure no families or children who are alone have to endure the 70km walk to register
  • We’ve met with national charities to identify child protection needs
Refugees in at port in Sicily
Save the Children staff run child-friendly activities at a port in Sicily.


This year, more than 130,000 refugees and migrant have arrived in Italy – more than 8,500 of them are children who have made the journey alone without any family.

  • We run centres where children are offered showers, clothes, food and medical support
  • We have reception centres to assess children’s needs and to ensure that families are aware of their legal rights
  • They’re also given the opportunity to make calls
  • We’re working with authorities to reunite children with their families

Help us support more children: please donate today


A quarter of asylum seekers arriving in Norway in August were children who were on their own.

  • We have hundreds of volunteers running fun activities for children in centres across the country – to give them a sense of normality after so much upheaval.
Save the Children Refugee Crisis what we're doing
A Somali widow and her four children, who are among hundreds of refugees in Belgrade, Serbia.
“We have met kind people here in Belgrade. We needed to leave Somalia, gunmen killed my husband. Somalia isn’t safe”.


By mid-September, at least 25,000 children had reached Serbia.

  • We’re distributing daily food and water rations along the Serbian border with Hungary and Croatia
  • We have permanent and mobile spaces where children can play and receive emotional support


Since January 2015 2,100 refugees have arrived in Spain.

  • We are deploying a team to Melilla, a Spanish city that borders Morocco, to assess the needs of children at the southern borders
  • We are creating a welcome plan which will consist of activities for incoming child refugees and their families
Save the children refugee crisis, what we're doing
Mohamad* and his family at LaGeSo registration centre in Berlin, Germany. Families must register with this office – the process can take up to two weeks to complete. During this period, the family has to remain at the centre every day, waiting for their number to be called.


Nearly 50,000 people have applied for asylum in Sweden so far – 9,000 are children who have arrived alone.

  • We’re running centres where children can meet and be supported by psychologists
  • In Stockholm, our teams are seeking out children who are alone
  • We’re providing these children with toys, language training and school materials


Conflict in Syria is now in its fourth year. More than 4 million people have fled Syriamore than half of them are children. But many children still remain in the country.

Children in Syria tell us they have lost hope. They’ve seen their friends and families killed in front of them. Their home are rubble. They’re hungry and often sick.

  • We run programmes to make sure that children get the psychological support that they need
  • We help children return to education by supporting schools providing them with bags, unifrm and equipment
  • We are also supporting 5 healthcare facilities and a hospital
  • Since the start of the conflict in Syria, we’ve reached almost 1 million children
Children in school in Syria
Students in class at a school supported by Save the Children in northern Syria.

Please donate today to help us continue with this vital work, supporting children in desperate need.


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