As we mark World Refugee Day, the need to provide genuine help and tangible solutions to refugees and displaced people across the world – including children on the move – has never been clearer.
New UNICEF statistics prove the world is facing its biggest collective humanitarian crisis since the end of World War Two. Over 65 million people have now been forced to flee their homes – higher than the population of the United Kingdom.
Half of these forcibly displaced people are children. Around 75,000 asylum claims were registered by children travelling alone in 2016 – whether they were forced to travel without their parents or had been separated from them while on the move.
But World Refugee Day is not just about highlighting the problems refugees and those displaced within their home countries face. It’s also about providing solutions.
Two new UN Global Compacts – one on Refugees and one on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – provide a welcome springboard to propel the rights of refugees and other displaced people to the top of the international agenda. Both Compacts will be finalised by autumn 2018, and will define how national governments handle refugee and migration issues from then on.
The rights and needs of children on the move must be placed at the very centre of these compacts.
This pivotal opportunity to enshrine access to education and healthcare for children affected by migration within international law cannot be missed. Helping children who have survived horrific experiences to be reunited with families must be embedded into this new international legislation – and detaining them because of their migration status must be banned outright.
Governments must help children moving into new communities by ensuring they are protected from discrimination, and enable their integration into new surroundings as much as possible – such as through providing access to services like languages classes and vocational training.
The Global Compacts are an opportunity for governments to put the best interests of children on the move first. This is the only way that some of the most vulnerable people on the planet today will grow into the people to create a safer, more tolerant and empathetic society tomorrow.
World Refugee Day is also sandwiched in between two events this year which could decide whether children’s rights are included in the Global Compacts or not.
The Global Conference for Children on the Move brought together stakeholders from civil society, UN agencies, the private sector, national governments and more to ascertain the best way for children to be represented in the Global Compacts. The conference allowed representatives from all these backgrounds to advise on how best to protect children on the move through this new legislation.
The Global Forum on Migration and Development takes place later in June, where it is essential that this momentum continues. Symbolically, both events are held in Berlin – a safe haven for so many refugees since Germany opened its doors to them in 2015.
By fully supporting strong UN compacts on refugees and migration, and empowering children who have been forced to flee their homes to achieve their potential, governments can transform future World Refugee Days. Today’s refugee day may be a call to action, but future refugee days could instead be a celebration of what refugees have given to the communities they have sort shelter in.You might be interested in other: Blog News
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