Young Ukrainian girl crying in a child friendly space

World Refugee Day & World Refugee Week

Learn more about child refugees and how we work to protect them.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 43.3 million children have been forcibly displaced They are forced to leave their homes, and in some cases, separated from their families. Becoming a refugee means children are more vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation, but they're also missing out on getting an education and experiencing childhood.

As a children's charity, World Vision is ensuring children are protected and empowered, even in the hardest places. Learn about World Refugee Day and World Refugee Week, and how you can join World Vision supporters to support refugee children.

When are World Refugee Day and World Refugee Week?

World Refugee Day falls on 20 June every year, and this is also part of World Refugee Week which runs from the 16-22 June 2024. 

For the first time on record, the number of people forced to flee their homes has now exceeded 110 million people due to conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution .

Conflict is one of the main drivers of forced displacement, with over half of all refugees originating from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine.


Sudanese mother crouched down with child, looking at the camera in a desert-like environment
In South Sudan, families are forcibly displaced due to the conflict in their country

What is the definition of a refugee?

A refugee is someone who has fled their country because they are at serious risk of harm, persecution or danger. Refugees feel they have no choice but to leave because their government cannot, or in some cases will not, protect them. Refugees have a right to asylum, medical care, schooling and the right to work.

What is a refugee crisis?

A refugee crisis is defined as when many forcibly displaced people move from their home country to another to escape danger or persecution. The term refugee crisis can refer to unrest or war happening in the country of origin or the country of arrival. A crisis can refer to the perspective of the refugees, the country to which they flee, or, in most cases, both.

Whilst fleeing, many refugees have nothing, they do not have access to food or clean water, and many carry no possessions other than the clothes on their backs. A person can become a refugee in an instant.

Violence against Rohingya in Myanmar, the Syrian crisis, and conflict in South Sudan have caused some of the biggest refugee crises in our recent history. Currently, across the world, there is more conflict than ever, driving an increase in displaced people worldwide.

READ MORE: What is a refugee and what is a refugee crisis?


Ukrainian refugee women wear hairnets and overlooking the plates of food they cooked
We're working with local partners to help Ukrainian families rebuild their lives by learning new skills

How does World Vision help refugees?

World Vision continues to work with refugee children and their families, ensuring they can access essentials and critical services. We help refugees by providing food, hygiene kits, shelter, financial assistance and child-friendly kits with recreational activities and information on staying safe.

We understand the importance of helping families build self-sufficiency, which is why we are supporting refugees to generate an income. These programmes might offer entrepreneurship and leadership training or help people farm more effectively and connect them to markets for their harvests.

Keep reading to discover how Polina's life changed in an instant like millions of other Ukrainian children impacted by the devastating conflict.


Young Ukrainian refugee is holding her small dog
Polina, 12, her pet dog “Stitz” and her mum finally managed to escape the bombing in their home city of Mariupol to find safety and life-saving support in Romania.

Polina's story

The growing number of refugees is shocking, but behind each statistic are real people like 12-year-old Polina, who escaped Mariupol through a humanitarian corridor with her mother and pet dog.

World Vision staff met Polina at the Siret border crossing between Ukraine and Romania. She had just crossed over into safety after living through seven weeks of terror in the decimated city. She is now a refugee in Romania, along with her mother and her dog “Stitz”.

Polina recalls the horror …

“Every day, we heard the sounds of aeroplanes, tanks and shooting in the streets. We have a two-floor home, and one time we were in the basement, and the whole house was shaking. A rocket blew up near our garden. Our neighbour’s windows were all broken, and my friends who live near us had their roof fall in. Another friend’s house caved in and had no walls. One house was on fire, and the walls fell. There was ash all over the city.

“It was scary, very scary.

“Everyone came over, and we all started living together because our home wasn’t damaged. There were 12 of us. The first thing we lost was the gas; then we lost our lights and water. My father, grandfather and uncle would go outside to cook the food. When our food and water were finished, my father and some neighbours took a cart with bottles to draw from a well. It was very far away; they had to go a long way to get water.”

World Vision has been working with Ukrainian refugees since the start of the crisis, reaching children and their families with essentials like nutritious food, educational materials, healthcare and psychosocial support.

You can help refugees and those in refugee camps

By supporting our work, you can help refugee children driven from their homes feel protected and empowered to build better futures. The pennies and pounds you donate create real change in the world for children that really need it. When you donate to help a child or support our work at World Vision, you become part of our community of faithful supporters; you become part of the solution!

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