The Government, the European Union, UNICEF & UNHCR join efforts to protect children on the move in Zambia with new $1.5 million national programme

31 March 2021

LUSAKA, Zambia, 31 March 2021 – The Government of the Republic of Zambia, the European Union (EU), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency have launched today the Zambian component of a new EU Global Promotion of Best Practices for Children in Migration programme, to strengthen child protection systems and provide alternatives to immigration detention. 

The programme in Zambia will be implemented under the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and the Ministry of Home Affairs. It aims to strengthen the child protection system and seek to avoid immigration detention of children on the move. To ensure such children receive the support they need, the programme will support capacity building for social workers, police and immigration officials in case management.

Speaking at the launch, the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Stephen Kampyongo MP said: “My government has continued to initiate intervention actions aimed at mitigating challenges faced by children in migration, notable among them include the development, enactment and setting up of the following:

1.  The National Child Policy in 2015

2.  The National Social Protection Policy, 2014

3.  The ongoing development of the National Migration Policy, the Child Code Bill and the review of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act no. 11 of 2008

4.  The development of Best Interest Determination guideline (BIDS) for migrant children and;

5.  The setting up of shelters for vulnerable persons including unaccompanied and separated children in Chipata, Sesheke and Chongwe and Mansa.”

Zambia joins three other countries (South Africa, Mexico and El Salvador) implementing the programme, which is funded with a total budget of €7.5 million, including €7 million from the EU. The budget for the Zambia programme is $1.5 million. Over the course of the 30-month programme, UNICEF and UNHCR will jointly work with the Government of Zambia; local authorities; civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

Welcoming the launch of the programme, Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Jacek Jankowski, said: “Children’s rights are at the core of our international partnerships agenda. The rights of the child are human rights. They are indivisible, universal and interdependent. As the European Union, but it should be the case for all countries around the world, we strive to protect and promote the rights of every child.  It is our collective obligation and duty, and a principle enshrined in the Treaty of the European Union”.

In partnership with UNICEF, UNHCR and the European Union, the Children on the Move programme shall respond to risks and vulnerabilities associated with children in migration.

“Children on the move face a variety of risks in the countries of origin, transit and destination. They are exposed to multiple vulnerabilities including immigration detention, kidnapping, separation from parents and care givers, violence, exploitation and abuse; with increased risks for girls” said Mohamed M. Malick Fall, Regional Director for UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

“In an era where COVID-19 has jeopardized access to services, these children are now even more vulnerable. Our joint programme will address the impact that immigration detention has on children’s mental health and wellbeing; and critically, the increased risks of child rights violations,” he said.  

“This project is a crucial opportunity for all actors involved in the protection of children on the move to work better together. These boys and girls face specific risks requiring tailored, gender specific, and child sensitive responses. Children should not be detained,” said Grainne O’Hara, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection.  

“Having fled from violence and persecution, children too often face further abuse, neglect and exploitation on their journey or at their destination. With this programme, we hope that safe alternative care arrangements will be strengthened and that children at risk are quickly identified and receive the attention they urgently need,” she said. 

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs dataset on migration show that in 2019 the number of international migrants in Eastern and Southern Africa and Central America stood at 12.3 million and 1.9 million respectively. The EU Global Promotion of Best Practices for Children in Migration programme will ensure that children in the four countries, particularly those impacted by immigration detention, are supported with child protection focused services. 

Download a PDF version of this press statement with full formatting here.


About the European Union 

The European Union (EU) invests significant resources to deliver life-changing programmes for children in many countries, and has adopted policies and frameworks to promote their rights.  The Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG-INTPA) works with partner countries to reduce poverty, ensure sustainable development, and promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law. For more information, visit 


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

About UNHCR 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance such as shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. For more information about UNHCR, visit 


For more information, please contact: 

Nephas Chifuta, PRO, Ministry of Home Affairs, +260 977 910 879,

Namambo Delot, Press and Information Officer, EU Delegation to Zambia,

Kelvin Shimo, Communication, UNHCR Zambia, +260 979 585 832,

John James, Chief, Communication, UNICEF Zambia, +260 977 300 636, 

Media contacts

John James
Chief of Communication
Tel: +260 977 300 636


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 in Zambia, visit

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