At least 13.5 million uprooted children in Africa – including those living as refugees, migrants or internally displaced – need strengthened national actions. Regional and international cooperation between states must be developed to uphold children’s rights -that include helping them reach their full potential. Ahead of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, UNICEF urges AU leaders to work together to address the negative drivers of irregular migration and respond to the needs of uprooted children across the continent.

“The majority of African migrants move within Africa, and while much of this movement of people is normal and regular, negative root causes remain major drivers of irregular migration across the continent,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Each day, children and families facing the ravages of violence, poverty or climate change make the painful decision to leave their homes in search of safety and a more hopeful future. Addressing these root causes will help reduce the need for families and children to leave in the first place.”

Nearly one in four migrants in Africa is a child, more than twice the global average, and 59 per cent of the 6.8 million refugees in African countries are children. Africa’s population of uprooted children includes:

6.5 million international migrants, including 4 million refugees;

7 million internally displaced.

At the upcoming summit, the AU is launching its year of refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons. This is a regional effort to support those driven from their homes by conflict and violence, persecution, climate change, poverty, a lack of educational opportunities, and those seeking family reunification.

In addition to addressing the negative drivers of irregular migration, UNICEF is calling on African governments to implement policies and programmes to protect, empower and invest in refugee, migrant and displaced children.