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HRC 49- Statement on Family Reunification in the Context of Migration

Defence for Children International (DCI) statement before the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council

Annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child-Family reunification in the context of migration

Geneva, Switzerland

9th March 2022 

Defence for Children International commends the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council to put the spotlight on the issue of family reunification in the context of migration.

The right of the child to be reunited with their family members is protected in the text of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although, it does sound like a very straightforward right in its application, the ugly reality comes to disprove it.

Every year thousands of children on the move who run away from war, persecution and injustice, have to give an unfair fight in order to be reunited with their families.

Mahmood was told that he cannot join his mother in Germany because he missed the three-month deadline. Mafuta received a rejection because she didn’t manage to submit all the required documents on time. Jamil is still stuck in Greece because he couldn’t cover the DNA test costs in order to prove that he was the son of his mother. And these are only some of the reasons why children are denied reunification with their families, while they remain trapped into dangerous cross border situations.

It goes without doubt that there is no valid justification based on moral and legal ethics to put the burden of the entire process on children.

Therefore, we urge States to: give Mahmood, Mafuta and Jamil an answer when they asked us: ‘WHY am I still far away from my family?’.

And we urge States to provide this answer in the form of a well-established inter-state structure

  • which places best interest procedures at its core,
  • where children on the move are seen as children first and foremost and their voices can be heard,
  • where all bureaucratic obstacles are replaced by accessible, effective and child friendly procedures

And we need States to commit to the allocation of budget for this to happen.

Otherwise, we run the risk of failing more children and expose them to the risk of trafficking and exploitation in their effort to fulfil their fundamental right, which is no other, than be with their families.

Thank you very much for listening.

Download the Statement Here