Some 28 million children around the globe have been driven from their homes by violent conflict, with nearly as many abandoning their homes in search of a better life, UNICEF said in a report released Tuesday. Per the AP, the report found that while children make up about a third of the world's population as of 2015, they accounted for nearly half of all refugees, with the number of child refugees having doubled in the last decade. "What's important is that these children on the move are children. And they should be treated as children," says Ted Chaiban, UNICEF's director of programs. "They deserve to be protected. They need access to services, such as education."
Increasingly, these children are traveling alone, with 100,000 unaccompanied minors applying for asylum in 78 countries in 2015, three times the number in 2014, the report found. Because these children often lack documents, they are especially vulnerable. The report estimates another 20 million children are migrants, driven from their homes by poverty and gang violence, among other things. Refugee and migrant children face a host of risks, including drowning during sea crossings, malnourishment, dehydration, kidnapping, rape, and murder. When they arrive in other countries, they often face discrimination and xenophobia, the report stated.