Uprooted: the growing crisis for refugee and migrant children

Uprooted: the growing crisis for refugee and migrant children

Around the world, nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced. This report presents comprehensive, global data about these children - where they are born, where they move and some of the dangers they face along the way. The report sheds light on the truly global nature of childhood migration and displacement, highlighting challenges faced by child migrants and refugees in every region.

Based on the findings of the report and its work in the field, UNICEF has developed six goals and practical suggestions to protect child migrants and refugees and provide them with hope for the future:
 
  • protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence - introduce measures to strengthen child protection systems, including the training of social and child workers and working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professional groups. Clamp down on trafficking  through enhanced law enforcement, and the systematic appointment of qualified guardians; better access to information regarding the management of their cases and access to legal assistance. Governments should also develop clearer guidance for case officers when determining the migration status of children, to prevent the return of children and families to persecution, dangerous or life-threatening situations
  • end the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating - introduce practical alternatives to detention wherever children (or their families) are involved, given the negative impact of detention on a child’s development. Examples of alternatives to detention include: the surrender of passport and regular reporting requirements; guarantors or bailees who may be family members or community supporters; foster care and supervised independent living for unaccompanied and separated children; and compulsory registration with authorities
  • keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status - develop clear policy guidance to keep children from being separated from their parents during border control processing and any migrant legal processes. States should speed-up procedures and make it easier for children to reunite with their families, including with their extended families in destination countries. Children born to migrant parents need legal identity for their future wellbeing. Governments should provide birth registration and/or other identity documents to enable children to access services and avoid statelessness
  • keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services - an increased collective effort by governments, communities and the private sector is needed to provide education, health, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, and access to legal and psychosocial support to these children. This is not only a collective responsibility, it is in all societies’ common interests. A child’s migration status should never represent a barrier to accessing essential services
  • press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants - address the root causes of conflict, violence and extreme poverty in countries of origin. This should include increasing access to education and social protection; expanding opportunities for family income and youth employment; and fostering more accountable and transparent governance. Governments should facilitate community dialogue and engagement towards peaceful conflict resolution, tolerance and a more inclusive society; and should take measures against gang violence
  • promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination - coalitions of NGOs, communities, private sector, religious groups and political leaders should take responsibility for influencing public opinion to prevent the rise of xenophobia and discrimination towards refugees
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