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UNICEF calls on European Council to address plight of refugee and migrant children

© UNICEF/UN012710/Georgiev
A little girl waits in line at Vinojug transit center for migrants and refugees near the town of Gevgelija, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

BRUSSELS, 20 October, 2016 - “This week’s meeting of the European Council in Brussels is a perfect opportunity for Europe to begin putting in place specific and measurable actions to address the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children. 

A number of such steps were included in the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants which was issued following an unprecedented gathering of Heads of State and Government at the UN General Assembly just over one month ago. Their inclusion underlined the reality that today, around the world, nearly 50 million children have either been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict or have migrated across borders.

Among the commitments designed to address this unprecedented level of human mobility, the signatories to the New York Declaration promised to ensure that all refugee and migrant children receive education within a few months of their arrival, and pledged to work towards ending the practice of detaining children while their migration status was being determined.

UNICEF calls on Europe and the rest of the international community to focus on six specific actions to help displaced, refugee and migrant children who have been uprooted from their homes:

  • Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  • End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives.
  • Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status.
  • Keep refugee and migrant children learning and giving them access to health and other quality services, including education.
  • Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
  • Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization."


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:
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Brussels; singram@unicef.org; +32 491 90 5118
Rebekka Opfermann, UNICEF Brussels; ropfermann@unicef.org; +32 492 933 743





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