The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe – whether off its coasts, on its shores or along its roadsides – is also a crisis for children. A total of 1,014,836 people arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, according to UNHCR, of who estimated 253,700 were children, which means that one in every four asylum seekers in Europe in 2015 was a child. More than half of them entered Europe through Greece, escaping mostly conflicts and insecurity in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. A significant number of children are travelling unaccompanied or have become separated from their families on the move and most of them have undertaken perilous journeys, exposed to adverse weather conditions and the threat of smugglers.
On March 29, 2016, UNICEF launched a series of animated films called UnfairyTales, in an effort to help frame positive perceptions towards the tens of millions of children and young people on the move globally. Created by ad agency 180LA, the videos chronicle real children’s journeys from Syria by juxtaposing stunning animation with terrifying narrations of the terrible events wrought by this globally impactful humanitarian disaster.
Malak and the Boat tells seven-year-old Malak’s harrowing story of her journey in a leaky boat across the Mediterranean to Greece, seeking shelter from the Syrian conflict. Ivine and the Pillow animates the true story of 14-year-oldIvineand her pillow, Pillow. After a perilous escape from Syria,Ivinesettles at a refugee camp in Germany only to face new challenges. Finally the third of the series, Mustafa Goes for a Walk, takes viewers along Mustafa’s journey as he escapes Syria in fear of being killed, leaving his friends behind. Even his toys, that give him some semblance of home, do not make it along with him.
“Everybody seems to know what’s happening in Syria. But, do they know what’s happening toMalak,Ivine, Mustafa and the other eight million children affected by the war?” asks Eduardo Marques, Executive Creative Director at 180LA. “We needed to tell these stories and make everyone rethink it.”
All stories will roll out across UNICEF’s global regions in French, Spanish and Arabic translations. TheUnfairy Tales, plus the real stories behind the animation and other media assets can be downloaded on http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF3BZ9S
The Unfairy Tales are part of an initiative, #actofhumanity, emphasizing that children are children, no matter where they come from, and that every child has rights and deserves a fair chance. “No matter where they are in the world, when refugee and migrant children reach their destination, it is the beginning of another journey, not the end of the road,” said PalomaEscudero, UNICEF’s head of communication.
As part of a joint endeavour to step up protection for the growing numbers of children and others with specific needs arriving in Europe, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF are setting up special support centres for children and families along the most frequently used migration routes in Europe. Known as “Blue Dots”, twenty Child and Family Support Hubs aim to support vulnerable families on the move, especially the many unaccompanied or separated children at risk of sickness, trauma, violence, exploitation and trafficking. At present, the first hubs are now operational or about to open in Greece, FYROM, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. All 20 will be operational within the next two months.