Protecting lives of children on the move

Nearly 34,000 children have been receiving psychosocial support, including access to Child Friendly Spaces, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.

By Enrique Patiño
© UNICEF Ecuador/2019/Arcos
UNICEF Ecuador/2019/Arcos
22 August 2019

David is a 10 years old boy who walked and travelled for 15 days from Venezuela to the Peruvian border. His dream is to become a football player and play the World Cup. Nevertheless, it can only be possible if he is safe and protected. Luckily, after he arrived in Tumbes, he was able to access a UNICEF’s Child Friendly Space, where he received support, played and completed activities. There, he was able to relief the emotional impact of such a travel.

These spaces, located in all the neighboring countries affected by the Venezuelan migration crisis, are providing specific psychosocial support with intersectoral programming interventions in countries as Ecuador, Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago, benefiting more than 34,000 children already, according to the Situation Report Migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean, updated last May.

Following efforts to protect children, UNICEF Peru reached an agreement with the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations to improve services provided to unaccompanied and separated children at the CEBAF, located at the entering border, in order to increase child protection. Additionally, UNICEF and implementing partner Plan International provided access to a child-friendly space to 3,760 children at the CEBAF, and distributed information on violence prevention to 5,441 family members. In 2019, 15,121 children have received attention.

© UNICEF Trinidad y Tobago/2019
UNICEF Trinidad y Tobago/2019
Children in Trinidad & Tobago play with pieces of building discs in one of the Child Friendly Spaces located in migrant highly populated towns. Art-therapies are provided to children.

In Ecuador, strengthening the Special Procedure for Unaccompanied or Separated Children and Adolescents became a priority for UNICEF. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) began working at the three border points of Rumichaca, San Miguel and Huaquillas to cover legal assistance needs and to support the local protection institutions in the implementation of the “Procedure for Children on the Move”. 1,447 children received psycho-emotional support in the Child Friendly Spaces (already 6,609 this year) with implementing partner HIAS. In collaboration with Danielle´s Children Fund (DCF), safe space to eight adolescents on the move was provided.

Brazil UNICEF focused on ensuring the inclusion and high visibility of protection risks and specific considerations for children, adolescents and single mothers. Already, 12,075 children have received psychosocial support in 2019.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago worked to support the establishment of 3 Child Friendly Spaces in highly migrant populated towns as safe places for psychosocial support and access to learning, socialization and play for children on the move. Art-therapies, in the form of workshops, provided therapeutic intervention to asylum-seeker and refugee children while raising awareness on their plight via an exhibit of their work.

© UNICEF Perú/2019/Arcos
UNICEF Perú/2019/Arcos
In Perú, two children play in a Child Friendly Space located at the border, in Tumbes, while adults stand in line, waiting for document verification.

Public donors such as the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM), Canada and Sweden; the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and private partners - through the United States Fund for UNICEF - have provided key support to UNICEF to ensure the continuity of child protection activities in strategic locations such as border crossing sites, shelters and host communities, aiming at supporting crucial support for children on the move to help them overcome the difficult experiences and risks related to the migration context.


All figures extracted from: