UNICEF statement in response to the outcome of the EU Summit with Turkey

08 March 2016
GENEVA, 8 March 2016 - With regard to the outcome of the EU Summit with Turkey, UNICEF reiterates that in the implementation of such decisions the fundamental humanitarian principle of ‘do no harm’ must guide authorities across Europe, the Balkans and Turkey at every step when it comes to the care of refugee and migrant children.  

While the details of exactly how this new plan will be carried out remain unclear, UNICEF reminds states of their following responsibilities and obligations: 
· First and foremost children’s rights to claim international protection should be guaranteed.
· Children should not to be returned if they face risks including detention, forced recruitment, trafficking or exploitation.
· To allow safe and legal channels for children escaping war and conflict through appropriate measures including family reunification, so that children, especially unaccompanied, do not resort to smugglers and traffickers to find safety.
In the immediate term, the current dire situation unfolding on the borders of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, remains unacceptable for children who are now in the majority of those on the Idomeni border in northern Greece.

Children have already endured so much - fleeing war and conflict, and a dangerous crossing.  It is yet another blow that they are now forced to sleep in the open, with no access to basic services, unsure whether they can go forward or be forced back.

Children stranded are at greater risk to smugglers and traffickers and their rights must be prioritized.

UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Greece to find immediate solutions for refugee and migrant children.


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