‘RM Child-Health’: safeguarding the health of refugee and migrant children in Europe
More than 1.3 million children have made their way to Europe since 2014, fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in their own countries. They include at least 225,000 children travelling alone – most of them teenage boys – as well as 500,000 children under the age of five. In 2019 alone, almost 32,000 children (8,000 of them unaccompanied or separated) reached Europe via the Mediterranean after perilous journeys from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and many parts of Africa – journeys that have threatened their lives and their health. Many have come from countries with broken health systems, travelling for months (even years) with no access to health care and facing the constant risks of violence and exploitation along the way. Many girls and boys arriving in Europe have missed out on life-saving immunization and have experienced serious distress or even mental health problems. They may be carrying the physical and emotional scars of violence, including sexual abuse. The health of infants and mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding has been put at risk by a lack of pre- and post-natal health services and of support for child nutrition. Two girls wash a pot in the common washing area of the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria, on the island of Lesvos, in Greece. Two girls wash a pot in the common washing area of the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria, on the island of Lesvos, in Greece. Child refugees and migrants also face an increased health risk as a result of crowded and unhygienic living conditions during their journeys and at their destinations. Even upon their arrival in Europe, refugee and migrant children and families often face continued barriers to their health care, such as cultural issues, bureaucracy, and a lack of information in their own language. Southern and South East European countries are at the heart of this challenge, struggling to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children. And now, an already serious problem is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugee checks on his son
UNICEF responds to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and Central Asia
The appeal will enable UNICEF to ramp up its existing work to support national efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, while mitigating the impacts on children and their families. This will include: Providing protective, life-saving health and hygiene supplies for facilities, health and social care workers and affected communities Supporting continued access to essential healthcare, immunization and nutrition services for women, children and vulnerable communities Intensifying and expanding communication and engagement with communities on infection prevention and safety in the home through social and multimedia, reaching children, adolescents and parents, and recognizing the role of young people as key conveyors Ensuing continuing education through distance learning for pre- and school-age children, using internet-based technology, TV broadcasts and innovative social media challenges Supporting mental health, psychosocial assistance and GBV prevention for children and caregivers through online platforms Supporting evidence-based strategies to strengthen social protection programming and reinforce safety nets for children most at risk in the face of unprecedented economic downturn in the Region Ensuring global and regional coordination, and effective data collection on the impact of the pandemic on children in Europe and Central Asia.