Global blueprints on refugees, safe migration should include protections for children – UNICEF

Maria [name changed], 16 (on right), from Honduras travels north with her younger siblings, expecting to cross the border near Tultitlan, Mexico, to the United States, to reunite with her family. Photo: UNICEF/Ojeda (file)

30 November 2017 – The rights, protection and wellbeing of uprooted children should be central commitments of global migration policies, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday, as it released a new report prior to a meeting next week on safe, regular and orderly migration.

The meeting, taking place from 4 to 6 December in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is a major step towards drafting the landmark intergovernmental Global Compact for Migration , an agreement covering all dimensions of international migration.

“Global leaders and policymakers convening in Puerto Vallarta can work together to make migration safe for children,” said UNICEF Director of Programmes Ted Chaiban.

It is the moment when world leaders will begin to forge consensus on political and financial commitments in line with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report, Beyond Borders: How to make the global compacts on migration and refugees work for uprooted children, highlights best practices for the care and protection of refugee and migrant children and includes examples of governments, civil society partners and host communities working to support and integrate uprooted children and their families.

“Our new report shows that it is possible, even in countries with stretched resources, to implement policies, services and investments that effectively support refugee and migrant children in their countries of origin, as they transit across borders and upon reaching their destinations,” said Mr. Chaiba.

Refugee and migrant children are especially vulnerable to xenophobia, abuse, sexual exploitation and lack of access to social services. The report underscores the importance of having policies in place to protect them over the course of their journey.

It also presents successful case studies from around the world, including the implementation of minimum protection standards for refugee children in Germany, cross border child protection systems in West Africa, and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children in Zambia. Other countries featured in the report include Afghanistan, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, South Sudan, Vietnam, Uganda and the United States.

Each of the initiatives can be replicated in different contexts and inform child-focused actions and policy change at national, regional and global levels to be agreed in the framework of the Compact.

The report also presents UNICEF's six-point agenda for action, as a basis for policies to protect refugee and migrant children, particularly those unaccompanied, and ensure their wellbeing from exploitation and violence.

It also calls for the end of detention for children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives, and advocates for keeping families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status.

The agenda stresses that all refugee and migrant children have access to education, health and other quality services, and presses for action on underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants.

Finally, it promotes measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.


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