“We want to build bridges, not walls.

We want safe and orderly migration routes.

We want children to be at the heart of international refugee and migration policies.”

This is the message we declared at the Brandenburg Gate – the site of one of the most notorious walls of the twentieth century separating east and west Berlin.

During the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Civil Society Days, we made clear how we want governments to put the rights of child refugees and migrants first.

When children are forced to leave their homes to find safety and security, they must have access to protection and public services as quickly as possible.

They must have a place in school within days or a week of arriving in a different country or regional area. They must have access to proper healthcare, and they must be treated first and foremost as children – not refugees, undocumented migrants or any other label.

At the GFMD Civil Society Days, Destination Unknown campaign members took these messages to governments through the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts. Destination Unknown campaign members Dominik Kalweit from Maltese organisation KOPIN and Lala Arabian and Roula Hamati from Lebanese NGO Insan also attended to champion children’s rights within discussions.

This is a drive co-organised by Save the Children and Destination Unknown campaign coordinator Terre des Hommes to make children’s rights central to two new UN Global Compacts to be finalised next year – the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration.

The Initiative officially launched it’s Working Document on how to protect, promote and implement child rights within the Global Compacts at the GFMDs. These recommendations include goals, targets and indicators to make sure the international community walk the talk when promising to put children’s best interests at the heart of their migration and refugee policies.

Building bridges and extending hands of solidarity is essential to creating peaceful societies where refugees and migrants contribute to the prosperity of the communities they are living in. Walls, on the other hand, only promote the exclusion and isolation damaging for refugees and wider communities alike.

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