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Impact of migration on children and adolescents discussed at IV Global Forum on Migration and Development

Puerto Vallarta, November 12th. 2010 - Some 150 governments participating in the IV Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 8-11 November, discussed the impact of migration on children and adolescents in-depth for the first time in this government-led process.  Mexico's First Lady, Margarita Zavala, opened the preceding Civil Society Days calling on all to "look at migration through the eyes of children". 


Unaccompanied children were discussed in several round-tables, and the wrap-up report highlighted migrant children's access to health and education services in countries of destination. UNICEF/UNDESA efforts to fill the evidence gap, show that 33 million migrants are under the age of 20, making them around 15% of the total migrant population. Many more are affected when one or more of their parents migrate in search of better opportunities.


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, represented the Global Migration Group (GMG) of 16 UN and related agencies including UNICEF,  at the Forum, delivering a special message from the Secretary General. She welcomed the emphasis of the link between Migration and Human Development at this Forum, and set this within a human rights framework. She referred to a recent study by her Office, with contributions from UNICEF and other GMG agencies, which had identified “serious protection gaps for migrant children in every region of the world.”  


To ensure the voice of children and adolescents was heard at this high level meeting, UNICEF Mexico and its private sector partner, publishing house Random House Mondadori, financed a Photographic Competition organized by the IOM and the UN Country Team in Mexico for adolescents 12-18 from Central America and Mexico to express their views on how migration affects them. The photographs were accompanied by the views of adolescents on topics such as: the effect of remittances on children’s lives, the separation of families, human capital formation, child labour, “brain drain”, a gender perspective, education and the disparities between countries, and cross-cutting hopes that migration brings a better future. Civil society and delegations at the Forum received a book of the adolescents' photographs and views and extracts from relevant international standards, together with CD compilation of all relevant UNICEF and UN studies on Children, Migration and Human Rights. UNICEF publications, such as a TACRO Study on the Legal Norms in Latin America and the Caribbean on children and adolescents in situations of irregular migration, were also in great demand at a UNICEF stand at the Forum.   The stand also served to distribute the newly launched GMG Handbook on Mainstreaming Migration in Development Planning.


The theme of this year's GFMD was "Partnerships for Migration and Human Development: Shared Prosperity, Shared Responsibility." The Mexican government, which hosted the four-day forum, innovated by facilitating a "Common Space" for interaction between the Civil Society Days and Government Days, new round-table sessions on "Irregular Migration", "Migration, Family and Gender" and “Climate Change”, and by launching a Platform for Partnerships to give concrete follow-up to GFMD agreements.  Children were discussed in all of these spaces.  Invited as a co-presenter with Mexico in the Migration, Gender and Family round-table, Susana Sottoli, Head of the UNICEF Delegation and UNICEF Representative in Mexico explained, "Migration affects children in many ways, whether they are 'left behind', facing risks in transit, or unregistered and excluded in countries of destination. But children's rights are universal and independent of their migratory status, or that of their parents." 


UNICEF also co-presented with Mexico on one of three kick-off projects featured in the Platform for Partnerships. Several of the 56 countries participating in launch session expressed an interest in replicating Mexico's south-south cooperation on Training of Migration Officials and other agencies in child rights and protection in contexts of migration. UNICEF concluded "It is important to bring a child rights perspective to migration policies and officials, but it is also important to ensure that policies for children and child protection services are sensitive to the different implications of migration to children's rights and wellbeing".


For more information:

Monica Sayrols, msayrols@unicef.org, UNICEF Mexico

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean





UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


About the IV Global Forum on Migration and Development

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is a voluntary, non-binding intergovernmental consultative process on the growing importance of the links between migration and development.

Since 2007, the Global Forum has met on three occasions: in Brussels, in Manila and in Athens.


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