- Nearly 1 in 4 migrants, refugees arriving in Europe are children
- Founded in 1946, Unicef first helped refugee children after WWII
- Europe was experiencing it largest population movements in its history
- 70 years later, Unicef is witnessing remarkably similar scenes in the same places
It’s become a byword for children’s rights throughout the world.
Founded in 1946, Unicef – United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund – has been coming to the aid of children suffering from poverty and fleeing violence for 70 years.
Now the organisation has released a series of pictures from their archive to highlight the stark similarities between the children they were set up to aid and their current charges.
The surge of migration across Europe in the wake of World War II was unprecedented – it was the largest population movements in European history.
Children and families fled violence in Greece, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors who left Germany and Nazi occupied Poland after the horrors of the refugee camps.
Many Jewish survivors returned to their homes only to find them already occupied, and they were not welcome.
German populations in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary were also often forcefully removed.
During the winter of 1946-47, millions of people were still without shelter, food, clothing or fuel and children were particularly suffering, with half of all babies dying before their first birthday in some of the worst affected areas.
No entry: Circa 1946 in Greece, girls peer through the window of a schoolhouse where a medical clinic has been set up (left). In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a small child refugee stands with adults at a wire fence in Gevgelija, stranded at the main entry point to the country
Outdoors: Two children sleep on a wooden bed in the middle of a street in Italy circa 1945. In Croatia, an adult and a child refugee sleep on makeshift bedding outside a transit centre in 2015
Homeless: In Greece circa 1949, children peer out of a makeshift hut (left). In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a girl is huddled under a blanket to ward off the cold. Many children are on the move, and all are in need of proper care and protection
Tears: A young boy holds a crying child in a camp for displaced persons in Kavaja, Albania circa 1945. In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a crying child is comforted near Gevgelija. Unicef says long and uncertain journeys leave children frightened and vulnerable
Education: A boy refugee reads a book in Greece circa 1955 (left). Children draw in a UNICEF-supported child friendly space, equipped with educational materials and toys for children passing through Preševo, exhausted from their long journeys, in Serbia in 2015.
Rations: Circa 1946 in Greece, displaced girls enjoy a ration of ‘halva’, a nourishing mixture of semolina flour, olive oil or margarine, and sugar (left). In 2015, a child refugee eats a snack standing on a railroad track near Gevgelija, on the border with Greece
Aid: A humanitarian worker conducts a nutrition survey with a family in an outdoor kitchen area, in the heavily war-damaged village of Lika in Yugoslavia, circa 1945 (left). In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a UNICEF translator dries the tears of a crying girl in Gevgelija in 2015
Nutrition: Circa 1950 in Greece, girls receive provisions from Unicef. In 2015 in Greece, a volunteer aid worker places an emergency blanket over three newly arrived child refugees eating bananas
Journey: In 1946 in Poland, a refugee family rests on their belongings during their travel to the farm that awaits them in the Lower Silesia region (left). In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a boy wrapped in a blanket rests beside a railroad track heading further north to Serbia
New clothes: In 1949 in Italy, a girl smiles as she has her measurements taken for a new dress at the Santa Genoveva Institute, an orphanage in Naples (left). In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Syrian, Afghani and Iraqi refugees collect winter clothes distributed in Tabanovce
Games: Circa 1950 in Italy, children with disabilities play football (left). In 2015 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, teenagers play football at a refugee and migrant reception centre. Children need access to safe spaces where they can rest and receive emotional support
Travel: In Greece circa 1946, children orphaned by the war, wait in a truck journeying to adopting families (left). In 2015, a boy tries to sleep on a crowded train travelling toward the Serbian border from Gevgelija. Both then and now, integrating refugees into new communities is critical
Weary: Circa 1946 in Germany, a displaced girl wrapped in blankets, sits atop her belongings, waiting to continue her journey home (left). In 2015 in Serbia, a boy refugee rests on a suitcase at a reception centre in Preševo. He’ll travel further after receiving his travel papers
In Greece circa 1950, a boy wears socks held up with string and men’s shoes many sizes too large (left). In 2015 in Gevgelija, Jamal Majati ties his son Basher’s shoelaces, after stopping to change their clothes in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space, as they flee the Syrian conflict.