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Situation of children stranded in boats in South East Asia

Attributable to UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Daniel Toole

BANGKOK, 15 May 2015 - UNICEF is very worried about the situation of children and their families stranded on boats in the seas of South East Asia. These children need, and they have a right to, urgent help and protection. UNICEF shares the Secretary-General’s sense of alarm at reports that some countries are refusing entry to boats carrying refugee and migrant children.

Children who have fled their homes, either alone or with their families, are exposed to greater risk of abuse, exploitation and ill-health.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all South East Asian countries have ratified, any action that may impact on children must be guided by the best interests of those children, no matter who they are and where they come from. The Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to ensure all children are cared for in a safe place, with access to education, health, social and legal services, irrespective of their refugee or migrant status.

Article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically requires Governments to take measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status receives appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.

The children currently stranded in boats need urgent, immediate humanitarian assistance to ensure their safety. They also need long–term help to determine their status and provide a safe environment where their rights are fully respected.

Children should not be criminalised or subject to punitive measures solely because of their migration status, nor should they be detained for purposes of migration control. All actions in regard to child migrants must be guided by the best interests of every one of these children, every step of the way.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF Bangkok, +66 84 427 743 or +66 86 371-7012, cdebono@unicef.org









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