In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner […] States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to enter their own country. (art. 10.1 and 2, UNCRC)


Migration poses many challenges for children and their families, such as: poverty, violence due to leaving country of origin, isolation, and fear upon arrival in the host country.

Our work on Children on the Move includes child migrants, child refugees, children seeking asylum, internally-displaced children, stateless children, and children who have been trafficked. Concerns about the violation of rights and protection of this broad grouping of children have been growing rapidly as the numbers of children on the move have increased in recent years due to armed conflict, humanitarian disasters, and economic shortcomings in many states. Defence for Children International works to ensure that all children on the move can benefit from protection measures, enjoy all their rights, and have the possibility to advocate for their rights.

At international level, DCI is part of the Global Initiative on Child Rights, which works on the inclusions of child rights principles in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees. We also participate in the Inter-Agency Working Group on Ending Child Immigration Detention, and regularly engage with other UN human rights mechanisms and agencies regarding children on the move.

The rapid rise in the number of children on the move is often coupled with detention in poor conditions. The DCI Practical Guide – Monitoring Places where Children are Deprived of Liberty – is also key in this context.

At the national level, DCI National Sections 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. DCI Sections in Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia have worked together concerning child trafficking. This joint project consisted in providing capacity-building for border security officials, community leaders, and civil society organisations preventing and responding to cross-border child trafficking.

Moreover, due to the high number of refugees arriving in Lebanon, our National Section there has worked with a total of 1800 children in 2017 mainly on protection and education. In Europe, DCI sections in Greece, Italy and the Netherlands work together with asylum-seeking and migrant children arriving in their countries by providing direct legal assistance and training professionals.  This includes featuring a Children’s Helpdesk.