Bridging the Gaps Caused by Displacement

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There are more than 120 million forcibly displaced people worldwide today, the highest number in recorded history. Children make up around 40% of the world's displaced people. Families are driven from home because of conflict, poverty, persecution, climate change, and other factors beyond their control.

Displacement creates many gaps in children’s lives: children who are refugees are more likely to be out of school than their peers. They are more likely to experience fear, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Displacement disconnects them from family and friends, breaks familiar routines, and distances them from their favourite activities and places. It can be easy to lose hope.

Displacement shouldn’t limit children’s rights or their futures. We can bridge the gaps children face and create hope away from home.

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For close to 25 years, Right To Play has been protecting, educating, and empowering children who have been forcibly displaced to rise above adversity through the power of play.


When children become refugees, they leave their schools, their teachers, and their classmates behind. The loss of stability and support negatively impacts children’s learning and psychosocial well-being. Accessing formal learning in refugee settings can be challenging, leaving many children without opportunities to continue their education, or the hope that education brings.

In refugee and returnee communities around the world, we are helping students come back to school and training teachers to help students overcome learning loss with engaging lessons that make learning fun and participatory. We are rehabilitating learning spaces to make them safe, inclusive, and child-friendly. We are training Community Coaches to engage parents and community members in conversations about the importance of education for all children, especially girls and children with disabilities, who experience higher drop-out rates.


Since 2015, more than 400,000 refugees have fled Burundi. Many schools in refugee settlements are overcrowded and under-resourced, and teachers have little formal training. With support from Right To Play, teachers have strengthened their skills in play-based learning, creating safe, nurturing, and inclusive environments that engage large classes in active learning.

Deo, a project officer in Kibondo, increases access to education for forcibly displaced Burundian students in Tanzania.

The Ruyigi province in Burundi is home to one of the highest populations of returnees in the country, and only 49% of children are enrolled in school. Activities that raise awareness about the importance of education in returnee communities have helped thousands of children find their way back to the classroom and the playful education they deserve.

Frederique, a project officer in Gisuru, explains how Right To Play works to improve access to quality education for girls who have repatriated.


Many children arrive in refugee settlements knowing no one, having left their friends and support networks behind. For children experiencing fear and anxiety caused by their experiences of conflict and displacement, making new friends and finding their place can feel overwhelming, and sometimes impossible. Forcibly displaced children can also face discrimination and marginalization in host communities, which worsens the impact of displacement. For some children, the trauma lasts a lifetime.

Inside and outside of school, we create opportunities for children to engage in playful activities like theatre, music, art, and sports that bring diverse groups of children to together to play and make new friends, break down barriers, and feel confident and empowered. Play-based psychosocial activities give children pathways to process their emotions and express themselves in safe and supportive environments.


The majority of Syrian refugee and host community children in Lebanon are living in poverty due to the worst economic crisis in decades. Children are experiencing increased anxiety and additional barriers to learning, as many families focus on paying for food over school fees. Right To Play-trained teachers and Coaches help children process complex emotions and keep learning through play.

Ma'amoun, a program manager in Beirut, shows how Right To Play’s play-based learning and music-based interventions keep children learning and improving their psychosocial well-being.


In Ethiopia, we’re working in refugee settlements along the border with Sudan to provide psychosocial support to children who’ve been internally displaced by the war in the Tigray, helping children cope with trauma, and promoting connection between internally displaced and host community children.

At a refugee settlement in Assosa, Hayat enrolled at the local school where play-based methods helped her catch up on learning and cope with uncertainty.

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