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Access to education at risk for more than 17 million children displaced by conflict and violence

9 July 2019, New York – Over 17 million children were estimated to be living in internal displacement triggered by conflict and violence as of the end of 2018, according to new research from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). 

Two new reports argue that internal displacement deprives children of an education and the long-term opportunities it affords. Access to quality inclusive education, however, brings significant economic, social and health benefits to displaced and host communities alike.

The research will be launched today in New York at the High-Level Political Forum, where States will share progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on the education goal.  
“Internally displaced children and youth are virtually guaranteed to see their education interrupted, yet dedicated support to minimize these effects, especially during conflicts, is sorely lacking,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director for Data, Research and Policy. 

“All children have the right to education, so Governments should step up to ensure that displaced children have equal access.”

Within the figure of 17 million are more than 6.2 million girls and 6.4 million boys of primary or secondary school age. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, where even non-displaced children often face challenges in accessing quality education. In addition to the 17 million children whose are internally displaced by conflict and violence, millions more are thought to be displaced because of disasters, climate change and other causes. A further 5 million youth, aged between 18 – 24, were also displaced as of the end of 2018. 

“The internal displacement of children is a globally overlooked issue,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director of IDMC. 

“These children are largely invisible in global and national data collection, which makes it difficult to understand the scale and impacts of the issue; harder still to provide targeted support.”

The reports, entitled ‘Equitable access to quality education for internally displaced children’ and ‘Protecting the rights of internally displaced children in urban settings’, show barriers to education include; persistent insecurity, social tensions, discrimination, a lack of capacity and resources, a lack of access to services and information, financial barriers and missing documentation. 

Within a global context of increasing urbanisation, internal displacement is more often taking place in, or being driven to, towns and cities. This presents specific challenges but also opportunities, according to the report.

“Local authorities are key to finding long-term solutions for the displacement of children in urban areas, including investment and policies that specifically address the issue in local and national plans and budgets,” added Alexandra Bilak of IDMC.

Notes to editors:

About IDMC:  

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the world's authoritative source of data and analysis on internal displacement. Since its establishment in 1998, as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), IDMC has offered a rigorous, independent and trusted service to the international community. Their work informs policy and operational decisions that improve the lives of the millions of people living in internal displacement, or at risk of becoming displaced in the future.  


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

For interviews please contact:

Frankie Parrish, Head of Communications, IDMC  
Office: + 41 22 552 36 45  
Mobile: +41 78 630 16 78 

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York
Office: +1 917 340 3017,


Download the papers here.
Find out more about the launch event here.
Read a blog by one of the reports authors here.