DUBLIN/BRUSSELS, Thurs 20 Oct 2016 This week’s meeting of the European Council in Brussels is a perfect opportunity for Europe to begin putting in place specific and measurable actions to address the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children.
A number of such steps were included in the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, issued following an unprecedented gathering of Heads of State and Government at the UN General Assembly just over one month ago. Their inclusion underlined the reality that today, nearly 50 million children have either been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict or have migrated across borders.
Among the commitments designed to address this unprecedented level of human movement, the signatories to the New York Declaration promised to ensure that all refugee and migrant children receive education within a few months of their arrival, and pledged to work towards ending the practice of detaining children while their migration status was being determined.
UNICEF calls on Europe and the rest of the international community to focus on six specific actions to help displaced, refugee and migrant children uprooted from their homes:
- Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
- End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives.
- Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give them legal status.
- Keep refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services.
- Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
- Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalisation.
On Sunday night a child was found in a shipping container in New Ross, Co. Wexford, along with four other refugees and migrants. UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power has warned that without action, we face more discoveries like this one: “Our failure to provide for children affected by crisis puts children like this toddler directly in harm’s way. The onus is on governments to safeguard children. We call on leaders to be strong, compassionate and bold in their commitments to protect children on the move. Failure to do so will result in further unacceptable risks to children and more incidents like this one.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been operating for 70 years.
To learn about UNICEF and its work for children visit https://www.unicef.ie/
For more information, please contact:
Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: 085 1395272
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Brussels | email@example.com | Tel: +32 491 90 5118
Rebekka Opfermann, UNICEF Brussels | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +32 492 933 743
Photo above: © UNICEF/UN033487/Al-Koud
17 August 2016 in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.