02/03/2017 09:20 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2018

Child Refugees Deserve Better

We urgently need your help. We need to wake -- and shake -- the world up.

As a child, when my mother told me how she and her brother had to leave Europe in 1939 on a boat -- without their parents -- I prayed I would never experience anything so terrifying. Later, as a young mom, I vowed my own sons would enjoy the same wonderful childhood I had, free from the violence and hatred that scarred my mom's generation.

Now, as the President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, my job is helping ensure we put children first in more than 150 countries around the world, enabling them to survive and thrive -- the same things all parents want for their kids.

But I'm sad to say, my job -- and UNICEF's job -- have become a lot harder. In fact, the world is at a turning point. Globally, 50 million children have fled their homes. More than half are escaping war and insecurity - 28 million in total. A truly devastating number.

They are scraping by in temporary camps or crossing borders and oceans -- braving death, injury or exploitation every step of the way -- sometimes without their moms and dads to protect them.

Why? Because they need exactly what we take for granted every day of our lives. Safety, shelter, food and water. They're hoping for what we hope for, too. Health, education ... a chance to dream and make their dreams come true.

We really are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since UNICEF was founded after World War II.

Today, UNICEF is launching a powerful, two-minute film entitled, "The Shared Story of Harry and Ahmed," calling attention to the massive child refugee crisis. It tells the kind of tragic story I heard as a daughter and granddaughter of refugees. But it also warns us that children are once again risking their lives to free themselves from violence and persecution.

You will find UNICEF's video on our digital platforms here:

• YouTube:
• UNICEF USA's Website:

Please share our posts with everyone you know. Everyone in your networks. Anyone you think might care. Use the hashtag #childrenfirst.

Children deserve better.