Children Alone

When John’s village in South Sudan was attacked, he lost his parents and brothers in the chaos.

He’s not seen them since and doesn’t know if they’re alive or dead. UNHCR helped place John with a foster family. He is safe again but remains desperately worried about his family.
Photo: ©UNHCR/F. Noy

Children like John are too young to face the world alone. They’re vulnerable, lonely and struggling to survive. Please help support them and keep them safe from harm.

Child Rescue Kits

containing emergency nutrition, water and other survival essentials. 

Family Tracing

to reunite children with their parents or other relatives


to provide children with a loving new home.

What’s happening?

Over half of the world’s refugees are children – many of whom have been separated from their families. Alone and vulnerable, they’re at risk of violence, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment.

UNHCR works to help and protect children who have to flee on their own or become separated from their parents. We make sure they’re cared for, have access to family tracing and reunification services, and get all the support they need to rebuild their lives.


How do children become separated from their parents and relatives?

In violent situations or natural disasters, children are often orphaned or lose their loved ones in the rush to escape danger. Returning is too risky, so many of these children just press on to safety alone – never knowing whether their parents or other relatives are still alive.

What happens when children arrive with UNHCR?

Our first priority is safe shelter and providing children with Child Rescue Kits, containing all the essentials they need to stay alive. Then, we do an assessment to establish their precise needs and see if they require any extra psychological support.

What exactly is in a Child Rescue Kit?

Each kit contains emergency nutrition, water, clothes, shoes and other essentials a child needs to survive.

How do you help children in the longer-term?

Once children have recovered from their ordeals, we encourage them to play in our child-friendly spaces and make sure we get them into school as soon as possible. We also try to find them places with foster families where they will feel safe and be around others their own age.

Where can I access the latest data and reports?

Visit here to access the latest reports and data relating to UNHCR’s child refugee crisis response around the world.

Did you know that unaccompanied children make up almost 10% of refugees in places like Ethiopia’s Gambella region? 

Semira fled persecution in Eritrea – planning to leaving her children with their grandparents until she found a safe refuge for them all.

Before she could return to collect them, her children were themselves forced to escape the country. They lost contact with their mother for many months, at one point being kidnapped and sold to smugglers on the Sudan-Libyan border. UNHCR tracked them down and rescued them from a detention centre, before finally being able to reunite the family in Switzerland.

Photo: ©UNHCR/F. Noy/

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