Protecting refugee and migrant children must be a priority for EU: UNICEF

Attributable to UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, Ms. Afshan Khan

22 June 2018

GENEVA, 22 June, 2018

“Ahead of the European Council’s upcoming meetings on asylum and migration, UNICEF urges all leaders to prioritize the protection of children, regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status.

“Any new EU migration policy must consider the critical need to provide safe passages and legal pathways for refugee and migrant children and their families, as well as timely access to asylum and resettlement processes, and family reunification services.

"While fast-tracking asylum procedures could benefit children, it is critical that legal aid, appeal mechanisms and other safeguards be in place.  Health, education and protection services should also be fully accessible.

“No child should ever be placed in detention due to their migration status.  Detention, even for a short period, can have a devastating effect on a child’s mental health, well-being and development.

“Alternatives to detention such as foster care, supervised independent living, and community-based accommodations for families exist, and have proven to be effective.

“Member States have an obligation to protect the rights of all children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“UNICEF remains ready to support the EU in its efforts to protect and promote the rights of every child.”

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Learn more about UNICEF’s Agenda for Action for Refugee and Migrant Children.

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