Children on the Move

The challenges that come from human mobility and migration are currently some of the biggest concerns for our society.  In this complex, changing context around 14% of the world’s migrants are youth and children. This means that more than 34.7 million children are on the move around the world each year (Source : IOM, 2020). Many of them lose their families on their way to exile, becoming unaccompanied minors. Our work to protect the rights of Children on the Move comprises assistance to child migrants, child refugees, children seeking asylum, internally displaced children, and stateless children.

Concerns about the violation of child rights and protection of this broad group of children have been growing rapidly as the number of children on the move has increased in recent years due to armed conflict, persecution, humanitarian disasters, economic shortcomings and environmental destruction.

Regional conflicts in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East alter patterns of migration and expose children to unsafe, irregular, and exploitative conditions during which they suffer a myriad of rights violations.

Defence for Children International (DCI) aims to ensure that all children on the move can benefit from protection measures in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, enjoy full realisation of their human rights according to the principle of -non-discrimination-, and have the possibility to advocate for their best interest, as defined within our strategic framework.

At the international level, DCI is part of the Global Initiative on Child Rights, which works on the inclusions of child rights principles in the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration  and the Global Compact for Refugees.

At the national level, DCI Netherlands, Italy, Sierra Leone, Belgium, Greece, Lebanon, France and Costa Rica work with children on the move through a variety of projects, programmes, and activities, including by providing direct assistance, capacity building, awareness-raising, and advocacy.

We are committed to defending the rights to which children are entitled, under any circumstances.  With this objective, our work focuses on the following actions:

  • Contribution to and collaboration with the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (case studies, documentation, examples of good practices).
  • Promotion of the DCI Practical Guide – Monitoring Places where Children are Deprived of Liberty,  an innovative practical tool that offers a child sensitive and preventive perspective on the monitoring of child detention facilities.
  • Tracking and monitoring developments in the UN agencies as they address issues affecting refugees, migrants, victims of trafficking, and asylum seekers.
  • Advocacy and promotion efforts within national coalitions to forge stronger partnerships for communicating with relevant authorities
  • Feasibility of SLDCs incorporating broader services for refugees and migrants.
  • Direct assistance to children on the move and strategic litigation to defend emblematic cases in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), International Court of Justice…
  • Awareness raising and capacity building programmes for professionals working with children, migration and law enforcement officers, social workers and other stakeholders
  • Supporting the resilience of children on the move and promoting specific protection mechanisms as guardianship
  • Promoting the effective and efficient participation of migrant children in all subject affecting them
  • Creating projects linking in joint action DCI sections from countries of origin and countries of destination
  • Continued participation in the Inter-Agency Working Group on Ending Child Immigration Detention (DCI-IS)

Despite the consensus of the UN Committees, Working Groups, and Special Rapporteurs that detention in the context of migration is never in the best interests of the child, this continues to be a reality in several countries. Authorities tend to criminalise undocumented migrants in their policies and rhetoric.

As mentioned in the UN Global Study of Children Deprived of Liberty in its chapter on children deprived of liberty for migration related issues, studies have found that children in immigration detention experience serious harm. From specialised facilities to prisons perpetuating conditions of abuse, immigration detention is associated with detrimental physical and mental health and development for children.

Immigration detention itself may constitute a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and depending on the circumstances sometimes raises to the level of torture (UN Global Study: 2019, 440)

Read more: Children deprived of liberty and UN Global Study Website.

  • Supporting the resilience of children on the move and promoting specific protection mechanisms as guardianship
  • Promoting the effective and efficient participation of migrant children in all subject affecting them
  • Creating projects linking in joint action DCI sections from countries of origin and countries of destination
  • Continued participation in the Inter-Agency Working Group on Ending Child Immigration Detention (DCI-IS)

 

 

DCI-Greece:  

Years ago, Fufu ran from persecution occurring in her country with her 5-year-old daughter. After a hazardous journey, she was arrested and forcibly separated from her child. 

 For four months, Fufu received no news about her child so DCI Greece intervened to pressure the authorities. After this intervention, Fufu was released and reunited with her daughter.

 DCI-Greece also provided juridical support for her asylum interview and helped her to find safe accommodation.  

See also: 

Children deprived of liberty 

How me make a difference 

Related news: 

Greece/EU: Urgently relocate unaccompanied children 

Rescue the unaccompanied minors from the Moria Camp 

“I am not scared anymore”, says 16-year-old refugee Abdul 

Latest statements: 

Statement on the concerns regarding the challenges and discrimination faced by specific groups of children, such as those in conflict with the law and asylum-seeking, migrant, and refugee children EN