BANGKOK, 12 March 2019 – The European Union, UNICEF and the Government of Thailand announced their partnership to protect the rights of children affected by migration in Thailand, with the EU contributing EURO 2.3 million (about 82 million baht) over the next three years to support efforts to strengthen policies and practices for migrant and stateless children in Thailand.
Nearly 100 representatives from ministries, civil society organizations, the private sector, the European Union and international organizations gathered at the partnership launch event in Bangkok on Monday where they discussed the remaining challenges in realizing the rights of migrant children in Thailand as well as the solutions.
Although Thailand currently has policies and legislation in place to provide education, healthcare and child protection services to all children including children from migrant communities, a large number of migrant children still face multiple challenges in accessing affordable and quality service. Today, migrant children are still being left out for many reasons, including social stigma, poverty, frequent movement, inadequate service coverage as well as a lack of awareness and knowledge about how to access available services.
“All children, regardless of their migration status, must be protected. We have to ensure their access to education, healthcare and sanitation, social and legal services, and psychological support,” said H.E. Pirkka Tapiola, Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand. “And this is what the EU is committed to do. In cooperation with partners such as UNICEF and the Government of Thailand, we help strengthen national child protection systems – in order to ensure that no child is left behind.”
According to estimates from International Organization for Migration, there are approximately 300,000 to 400,000 child migrants in Thailand as of 2018, many of whom are undocumented. In addition, about 145,000 stateless children are registered with the Thai government, according to Ministry of Interior.
“Thailand already has progressive and generous policies especially in opening its essential services to all children in the country, whether they are Thai nationals, undocumented migrants, or stateless children,“ said Thomas Davin, Representative for UNICEF Thailand. “Our focus now is to bridge the gap between the policy framework and the realities of the lives of migrant children. This generous contribution from the European Union will help boost efforts to better protect the rights of these children and ensure they get systematic access to the services they are entitled to.”
The partnership between the EU and UNICEF will help strengthen the national child protection systems by training professionals and government authorities to identify, refer and assist vulnerable migrant children to ensure their access to social assistance, legal aid, counselling and birth registration.
The programme also aims to end detention of children for migration-related reasons, while strengthening alternative care options, such as foster care and kinship care for those who are deprived of parental care or are unaccompanied.
The partnership also aims to improve access to health care and education services for migrant and stateless children in Thailand. This includes working with education authorities to identify and address challenges such as transportation and language barriers as well as advocating for a good practice to ensure the education system and schools are more inclusive and responsive to the needs of migrant children. UNICEF is also developing an alternative and affordable insurance model in a bid to ensure that no migrant families are left out from necessary healthcare services.
The new programme will also help gather data and evidence to better understand who and how many children are affected by migration and develop information systems to monitor the services provided to them.
Note to Editors: The European Union has contributed EURO 10.5 million (about 379 million baht) to support UNICEF’s work to protect the rights of children affected by migration in eight countries across Southeast, South and Central Asia. The eight countries included in the EU and UNICEF co-funded programme are Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Thailand and Uzbekistan. Over the next three years, the contribution aims to support children who are migrating or have been forcibly displaced within their own countries or across borders.
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 for children, visit www.unicef.org.