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Children on the move


UNICEF calls on world leaders to protect refugee and migrant children



Join UNICEF and millions of citizens around the world who have already taken action – both online and in their local communities – urging leaders to adopt our agenda for action for refugee and migrant children.

Nearly 50 million children are on the move – 28 million of them driven from their homes by conflict, and millions more migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Far too many children encounter danger, detention, deprivation and discrimination. A child is a child, no matter what. The world must keep standing up for these children.


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Press for action on the causes that uproot children from their homes

Protracted conflicts, persistent violence and extreme poverty and disadvantage drive millions of children from their homes. UNICEF calls for greater efforts to protect children from conflict and to address the root causes of violence and poverty, including by increasing access to education, strengthening health and child protection systems and social safety nets, expanding opportunities for family income and youth employment, and facilitating peaceful conflict resolution and tolerance.


Help uprooted children to stay in school and stay healthy

Many refugee and migrant children miss out on education – and many lack access to health care and other essential services. UNICEF calls for increased collective efforts by governments, communities and the private sector to provide uprooted children with access to an education and health services, and to shelter, nutrition, and water and sanitation. A child’s migration status should never be a barrier to accessing basic services.


Keep families together and give children legal status

Children who are travelling alone or who have been separated from their families are more easily preyed upon, and more vulnerable to violence and abuse, than accompanied children. UNICEF calls for stronger policies to prevent children from being separated from their parents and other family members in transit, and faster procedures to reunite children with their families– including children in transit and those who have reached destination countries. In their countries of origin, all children should be registered at birth to establish a legal identity.


End the detention of refugee and migrant children by creating practical alternatives

Detention is harmful to children’s health and well-being – and can undermine their development. UNICEF calls for practical alternatives to detention for all children. Unaccompanied and separated children should be placed in foster care, supervised independent living or other family- or community-based living arrangements. Children should not be detained in adult facilities.


Combat xenophobia and discrimination

Uprooted children are often victimized by discrimination, xenophobia and stigma – both on their journeys and in their final destinations. Everyone has a part to play in welcoming uprooted children into our cities and communities. UNICEF calls on local leaders, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, the media and the private sector to help combat xenophobia and build greater understanding between uprooted children, families and host communities. Governments should also strengthen measures to combat discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.


Protect uprooted children from exploitation and violence

Refugee and migrant children are extremely vulnerable to violence and abuse, and to being preyed upon by smugglers and even enslaved by traffickers. UNICEF calls for increasing safe and legal channels for children to migrate and to seek refuge – and keeping uprooted children safe – by cracking down on trafficking, strengthening child protection systems and expanding access to information and assistance. Children and families should never be returned to face persecution or life-threatening danger in their countries of origin.



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