Training of Child protection Facilitators on Irregular Migration

UNICEF and its implementing partner Terres Des Hommes (TdH) have launched an initiative to combat irregular migration among children living in Egypt

Menna El Mlaky
Training of Child protection Facilitators on Irregular Migration
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Mohamed Abdel Wahab

02 August 2019

“I usually encounter challenging situations among children, like violence and abuses in their community. However, the most pressing issue I face is irregular migration among children” said, Nawal Kamal, a child protection facilitator in one of UNICEF supported family clubs in Public Healthcare Units in Borg Meghazal village at Kafr El Sheikh. Aware of the need to address the topic of irregular migration among children, UNICEF and its implementing partner Terres Des Hommes (TdH) have launched an initiative to combat irregular migration among children living in Egypt. They are informing and building the capacity of child protection facilitators who are in turn informing children from 12 to 18 year old

Nawal is one of 74 child protection facilitators, from 16 Egyptian governorates, who attended the training.

“The training came right on time, as many parents used to pressure their kids into taking this dangerous route and get out of the country, in hopes of lifting their socioeconomic standards” added Nawal. In her own village, this intervention about migration is also key: it was one of the most strategic exit points from Egypt to Italy and witnessed huge migration flows from Egyptians and other nationalities. 

Nawal is highlighting an important issue. There is a lack of knowledge about migration be it regular or irregular. This is why such trainings are so important. It informs the population about what is migration and the different types of migration. It highlights the dangers, obstacles and challenges that face the children who are undergoing irregular migration.

Amira Atta, a child protection facilitator comes from the governorate of Ismailia. According to her these trainings are crucial as in addressing the issue of migration. In some governorate, migration is deeply rooted in the community, as fathers used to migrate to nearby countries like Libya to support their families financially. And this way of thinking is of course being transferred to their children.

”Even though the children are highly exposed to the idea of migration, either through their parents, or what is presented to them in the media and the entertainment industry; they nonetheless, lack the basic knowledge surrounding migration, and the dangers that this journey represents, which are usually overlooked by children and their parents” said Amira, adding that the training provided her with the needed tools to transfer what she has learnt so far to the children, present them the real and raw image of migration, what are their rights and which institution they should turn to if they decided to migrate.

“The training gave me an insight on the vital procedures for children to have safe migration journey, one of which is having an authentic and valid passport and how to identify a fake one” said Mona Fathy, a child protection facilitator from Baltim. She continued by saying that in Baltim, children are growing up with the idea that migration is the only way for a better life and dream of migrating once they finish their studies, “that’s why it is essential for us, as facilitators, to inform the children about their rights and the hazards of going through migration and provide them with all the facts, to be able to make a rational decision afterwards” added Mona. She concluded by saying that non-Egyptian children, specifically Syrians, who are living in Baltim, are more inclined to undergo irregular migration, than Egyptian children.

دورة تدريبية لميسري أنشطة حماية الأطفال بشأن الهجرة الغير نظامية
يونيسف/مصر 2019/محمد عبد الوهاب

This initiative also addresses children on the move living in Egypt. Egypt has long been a country of transit, destination and origin of migration, as of March 2019, there are 247,779 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt, where children, under 18 years old, constitute around 39% of the figure, a significant number that has to be taken care of and protected against any form of violence. Therefore, UNICEF supported family clubs at public healthcare units open their doors to welcome non-Egyptian children to benefit from child protection services offered at family clubs.

“I have benefited a lot from this training, because in Aswan there are lots of Sudanese who migrated irregularly to Egypt from their home country and they don’t even have a valid travel document” Said Heba Abdel Aziz, a Sudanese facilitator in Aswan.

By the end of the training, Mona Fathy wished to include the parents in the sessions around migration, she stated: “It’s essential to raise awareness among the parents as well, not only the children as this will ensure that our message is heard and sustainable”. 

These three-day capacity building training for child protection facilitators who work at family clubs established within the Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs), were done with the generous support of the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development.