Girls fleeing emergencies outnumber London population

6 December 2017

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As families gather to celebrate Christmas, statistics released by ActionAid today reveal 14 million girls around the world - equivalent to the population of greater London - could face a new year displaced from their homes due to humanitarian disasters.


Based on figures published by the United Nations, the calculations show there has been an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of girls who have been displaced since 2013. The situation is set to get worse in 2018, with 624,000 Rohingya people forced to flee their homes in Myanmar, over half of which are women and girls. Girls trapped in emergency settings are often out of school and at risk of being married as children and/or sexually exploited if left without the right support.

These numbers have been released to raise awareness of ActionAid’s Christmas appeal, No Girl Afraid, which calls on the public to help protect girls who have been torn away from their homes due to conflicts in their countries. In Gaza, where three wars have been fought since 2008, ActionAid runs a child sponsorship programme to support girls who have grown up in conflict. The charity supports girls to secure an education and provides safe spaces so they are able to channel their stress, distress and trauma and have the chance for a brighter future.

Chief Executive, ActionAid UK Girish Menon said: “It is shocking to hear that as we look to bring in a new year with hope, millions of girls will be facing 2018 away from their home, and could be separated from loved ones due to the growing number of conflicts and emergencies around the world.

The trauma and hardship these girls have had to suffer is an unbearable and devastating thought, and no girl should be afraid or denied the right to a decent childhood.  Help ActionAid protect some of the world’s most vulnerable girls this Christmas, and give them a chance for security, to learn and dream of a future they deserve.”  

As part of the appeal, children’s author Giles Paley-Phillips has written a fictional children’s story based on the experiences of girls ActionAid works with, to show how child sponsorship can make a difference.  A Story of Hope has also been turned into a short film released today, narrated by Motherland, and Bafta award winning actor Anna Maxwell-Martin - and illustrated by Hannah Asen.

Motherland actor, Anna Maxwell Martin said: ‘Everyday it seems that we hear the stories of mre, and more people fleeing conflicts, or emergencies not of their making. So many of whom are girls, that suddenly have everything snatched away and left at risk of the even darker sides that wars can bring. No girl, or child no matter where they’re born should not have the chance to be safe and fulfil their potential.

I wanted to be part of this appeal, because I felt this story of one girl is one that should be told. I hope that it inspires people to listen, and in the spirt of giving help one child this Christmas with ActionAid.”

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To find out more about the No Girl Afraid campaign please visit:

For stories and photos from Gaza, and more information please contact Charlotte Clarke on 020(3) 122 0503 or and/or Melanie Stern

Notes to editors:

Statistics in the press release were calculated using UNHCR’s population statistics for 2016. It is an approximate number of girls under the age of 18 who are living away from home in 2017, after fleeing humanitarian crises/ disaster. (Source: - last accessed 28th November 2017).

Percentage rise calculated from 2013 figure = 9,565,214 girls under the age of 18 (Source as above)

Greater London population in 2016 stands at 14, 040, 163 taken from Eurostat “Metropolitan regions: Demographic balance and crude rates” Retrieved 13 July 2017 

Latest figure on number of Rohingya refugees from UN International Organisation for Migration, ‘Bangladesh Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response’, External Update, 30 November 2017.

ActionAid is a not-for-profit international charity, working with women and girls in 45 countries around the world.

ActionAid is one of the first charities in the UK to start child sponsorship. Through their sponsorship programmes they help children and their communities change their lives for good.