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18 December 2017 /
International Migrants Day: Refugee and migrant children are children above all else!
Child Protection
Unaccompanied minors

 Editorial: Andressa Curry-Messer, International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE)

With so much discrimination, indifference and lack of solidarity towards refugees and migrants, the underlying causes of their situations are not easily solved. Until effective measures are taken by their countries of origin, transit and destination, the number of refugee and migrant children worldwide is increasing at an alarming rate.

At least 300,000 unaccompanied children have been registered in about 80 countries in 2015 and 2016, compared to 66,000 in 2010 and 2011, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). To escape from situations of violence, natural disasters, conflicts or poverty, many children move alone. In the hope of better days and unaware of the dangers, they become easy prey for smugglers, traffickers and all kinds of unscrupulous people.

From the start, they are confronted with suffering. First of all, that of separation, solitude, uncertainty and fear. Then as they make their way, they are often faced with abuse and exploitation. Slavery, prostitution, rape and other forms of violence, nothing can be excluded. Sometimes even death awaits them.

Political leaders tend to forget that refugee and migrant children are children above all else. People who are both vulnerable and still undergoing development. They tend to neglect the rights of these children and the commitments they had made to them by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Children around the world, and especially those in emergency situations, must be a priority on the international agenda of the CRC countries. In particular, refugee and migrant children need special attention, with immediate and rapid protection measures.

Many children and their families experience extremely difficult situations year after year. It is time that the countries and authorities concerned use the international, national and interregional instruments they have adopted to make effective, pragmatic and, above all, human decisions.

The IDE is an ISS Switzerland partner as a founding member of the ADEM.