The High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development has not left children behind but, as the tragedy of Lampedusa was there to remind policy makers, a lot remains to be done indicating the high relevance of the Destination Unknown Campaign.

The global tragedy in Lampedusa occurred while the UN General Assembly was holding its high-level dialogue on international migration and development on how to best maximize the benefits of international migration for development, including for the migrants themselves.

On the second and last day of the debate, 4th October, participants honored those killed in the incident with a moment of silence.  Among them, Secretary General of the Terre Des Hommes International Federation, Ignacio Packer, who later added his voice to the many others who had expressed shock and grief at the tragedy.

« Human dignity is the first and core value on which children should be brought up, communities can be built and futures projected.  Without true respect for every human person, democracies cannot grow.  For years, Terre Des Hommes has been working in Lampedusa to assist and defend the rights of the migrant children.  With its Destination Campaign on children on the move Terre Des Hommes denounces the inadequate immigration policies and the repeated failure to combat smuggling with a particular focus to children».

These deaths off the coast of Lampedusa are not due to an old ship.  They are due to social resistance and continued indifference; because of the lack of efficient responses to ensure the protection and dignity of all people.  The views and opinions of Saleh, Farrah, Mamadou and Farah (1) were brought to the policy dialogue in New York.  The Destination Unknown Campaign presented in New York filmed testimonies of these children on the move who have suffered lack of protection measures during their quest for a better future (“The Art of Becoming” and “Farah’s story”).  Unlike the children on the move lost at sea, they can still speak out and call for the respect of the rights of all children.

At the High Level Dialogue, UN members states adopted a declaration which did not leave children behind.  This seem obvious but, until very recently, the global agenda was ignoring children and the social cost of migration on families and children.  UN member states committed to “protect the human rights of migrant children, given their vulnerability, particularly unaccompanied migrant children, and to provide for their health, education and psychosocial development, ensuring that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in policies of integration, return and family reunification”.

(1) Fattah toils in Istanbul, hoping to earn enough for the journey to Greece and then Italy; Saleh has been living in Europe for three years but yearns for his parents; and Mamadou tries to hang on to his job and his education in Belgium in spite of having become an undocumented migrant.  Farah arrived to Malta by boat from Libya.  He shares his hopes with the Maltese organisation KOPIN and looks back at his childhood in Somalia.

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