Most, with their families, are fleeing war and hardship in their home countries.
After visiting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Tuesday, Bloom crossed the border to the Republic of Serbia and met with some of the most vulnerable children on the move.
“What I’ve seen is just a fraction of the arduous journeys undertaken by child refugees and migrants. It is truly disturbing. Imagine the despair that drives families to leave their homes,” said Orlando.
“I am truly impressed by UNICEF’s rapid response to the crisis,” he added. “I visited the child-friendly spaces that allow children to have a childhood even if it is just for a couple of hours each day. These children are not images on the screen. They are real people in real need.”
UNICEF Serbia, in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council, has established two child-friendly spaces, one in the town of Presevo near the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and one in the capital city, Belgrade.
The spaces have educational materials and toys for the children who are passing through the area, exhausted from their long journeys. Most of the children have experienced some kind of trauma, so the child-friendly spaces are safe havens for them – places where they can rest for a while and feel like children again.
UNICEF has also set up two mother-and-baby spaces in the two towns, where mothers can receive support to breastfeed their babies, and where young children are fed, before they continue their perilous journeys through Europe.
As many of the families will be travelling through Croatia, UNICEF has given out information on landmines, since that country is still littered with dangerous landmines and unexploded ordinance, relics of the Balkans war in the 1990s.
Almost 150,000 people have expressed the intention to seek asylum in Serbia itself. One in four of them is a child.