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Children cannot wait: 7 priority actions to protect all refugee and migrant children

[Brussels, 29 November 2016] Today, 78 organisations active in the field of children’s rights, deliver a joint statement calling for action to protect and guarantee refugee and migrant children’s rights. You can read the statement here.

#Act4children #ChildRightsForum #UN4RefugeesMigrants #RefugeesWelcome #ChildrenCannotWait

The signatories, including the EWL, the European Network of Migrant Women, and other women’s groups, strongly welcome that this year’s European Forum on the Rights of the Child focuses on protecting children in migration. Children represent a significant proportion of migrants and refugees. At least 1 in 3 people arriving to Greece by sea in 2016 were children. In the same year, the number of unaccompanied children arriving to Italy has doubled compared to 2015. However, actions for children have remained uneven and insufficient. Responses to migration cannot be effective or protect children unless they systematically take into account their best interests and specific needs.

Some of the rights violations that refugee and migrant children face daily en route to, and within, the EU include lack of safety, food and access to services, such as health care and shelter; separation from their parents; extortion, violence and exploitation as well as injury and death. Across Europe, we are continuously witnessing the harsh conditions under which children have to survive, deprived of basic rights such as health care, education, birth registration and housing, as well as due process and justice in immigration and asylum procedures, legal representation, and effective guardianship for unaccompanied children. The risks of apprehension, detention and forced removal, as well as statelessness, are increasing. Children may face such challenges when they are unaccompanied, separated or with parents, and at different stages of immigration and asylum procedures and residence. Children themselves confirm that education, information about their rights and insecurity about their residence status are among their key concerns.

These children grow up in our societies, becoming future EU citizens. They should be considered as children first, regardless of their migration status. We need to invest in them, and empower them to fulfil their potential as equal participants in their communities.

We acknowledge the work that is being done across Europe by different governments, EU institutions and agencies to address these challenges. The Forum is a key moment to discuss the positive policies and practices to be adapted and disseminated. However, these initiatives are not enough.


Find here EWL’s recent publications #womensvoices, based on field trip assessments, strategic meetings at national and European levels, and data collected on the ground by EWL members in different countries, the report calls for:

  • Comprehensive policies to end all forms of violence against women and girls in the EU and its member states, and specific measures to ensure that women and girls refugees and asylum seekers are protected and get access to justice.
  • A humanitarian response which succeeds in protecting women and girls from male violence and exploitation.
  • Gender-sensitive asylum policies and procedures to help women and girls to escape or denounce male violence and access to their full human rights.

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