Today, more than half of the world's refugee population, which exceeds 65 million people, are children, according to a 2016 United Nations report.

An Afghan refugee chases bubbles while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Aug. 8, 2014. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Pulitzer-winning photographer Muhammed Muheisen — the Associated Press' chief photographer for the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — has spent the better part of a decade in refugee camps and slums, mostly in Pakistan and Jordan. "I believe that children are the real victim of any conflict," Muheisen said in an interview with BBC World Update's Dan Damon. "[I like] to show that the life of children is the same wherever you are in the world. They all seek fun and joy and happiness."

Muheisen doesn't shirk the reality of their situation — their makeshift camps are dusty, dirty, and polluted; their clothes tattered, food sparse — but he doesn't manipulate a dire scene for effect, either.

Afghan refugee boys, wrapped in blankets, play in a cart on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Nov. 30, 2012. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Some of Muheisen's most eye-opening photos are close-up portraits. Standing against a stark background, his young subjects stare directly into the camera, their big eyes revealing souls aged too soon.

"They're children in age, but they're not, in a way. They're grown up," Muheisen told National Geographic in June 2016. "I looked at a 5-year-old girl's face and I touched my face — and my face was softer than hers, for God's sake," Muheisen said. "So that's why I came close with my camera to show all these details in their faces."

Here's a selection of Muheisen's striking photos of the world's child refugees.

Refugee Zahra Mahmoud, 5, from Deir el-Zour, Syria, in an informal settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. | March 11, 2016 | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Afghan refugees and internally displaced Pakistani children gather in a mud house to learn how to write the alphabet at a makeshift school in the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Feb. 3, 2015. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Boys play on an improvised swing in a slum that hosts Afghan refugees and internally displaced Pakistanis from tribal areas on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Jan. 9, 2015. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

A Syrian refugee holds a balloon fashioned from a glove while waiting with her family in a train heading for the Austrian border in Roszke, southern Hungary. | Sept. 14, 2015 | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

An Afghan refugee girl holds her younger brother while she and other children gather by a vehicle loaded with vegetables on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan | Jan. 13, 2015. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Afghan refugee Hasanat Mohammed, 5, outside his home in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Nov. 12, 2013. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Afghan refugees and Pakistani children sing with their teacher during the morning assembly at their makeshift school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Oct. 31, 2013. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

An Afghan refugee girl carries laundry on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. | Feb. 22, 2015 | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Syrian refugee Zubaida Faisal, 10, skips rope at an informal settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. | July 19, 2015 | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

Syrian refugee Amna Zughayar, 9, from Deir el-Zour, Syria, at an informal settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. | March 13, 2016 | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

**To see more of Muhammed Muheisen's work in the field, follow him on Twitter or Instagram.**