UNICEF estimated that 50 million children are affected by migration globally. According to UNHCR, over half of the world’s 60 million refugees in 2015 were children, representing the highest ratio of minors in the global refugee population.
Behind all these numbers are individual children who are often subject to violence and exploitation.
“All children on the move, from Mosul and Aleppo, to South Sudan and Nigeria, need protection – regardless of their migratory status. They cannot go unheard or unnoticed” says Raphael Ruppacher, World Vision Brussels’ Migration Policy Officer. “World Vision is particularly worried about the situation of exploitation that many unaccompanied or separated children find themselves in. The protection and the best interest of the child must always be at the heart of EU leaders’ concerns”
Around the world and in Europe, children on the move are increasingly subject to immigration detention. Detaining children, with or without their families, can have long-lasting psychological consequences for children and is never in their best interest. Also in the European Union, immigration detention of children is not forbidden.
As we observe International Migrants Day this Sunday, we need to admit that the EU still has much to deliver for children on the move. Too often they fall outside of the EU and their Member States’ sight and priority to prevent and reduce migration. Now, more than ever, the EU and its Member States need to step up actions to ensure that children on the move are fully protected.
World Vision works with children on the move around the world, from refugee camps in Lebanon to projects in Central America and towns in Germany. Besides providing shelter and basic services, World Vision also sets up Child Friendly Spaces. In the course of 2015 and 2016, World Vision also responded to the situation on the Western Balkans route with a specific focus on child protection.
Cover Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images