In mid-2015, there were an estimated 20.2 million refugees in the world; over half of them are children. Globally, this is the highest number of refugees moving across borders in 20 years. The rights of refugee children to access healthcare and be free from arbitrary detention are enshrined in law. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have a statutory medical assessment, but refugee children arriving with their families do not. Paediatricians assessing both unaccompanied and accompanied refugee children must be alert to the possibilities of nutritional deficiencies, infectious diseases, dental caries and mental health disorders and be aware of the national and international health guidance available for support.