WASHINGTON: The rising number of people entering Europe in 2015 in search of safety and in search of a better life has captured the world’s attention with scenes of heartbreaking tragedy. Travelling hundreds and thousands of miles over land and over water, from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, people are risking everything in the hope of reaching their goal, and the danger does not end at a border crossing.
Amid this crisis, children are the most vulnerable of all. Many are travelling with their families, while many others are on their own. Every one of them is in need of protection and entitled to the rights guaranteed under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Migrant children and women, especially those migrating without documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In countries of transit and destination, migrants and their families often find themselves victims of discrimination, poverty and social marginalization.
UNICEF is engaging with EU Member States, UN agency partners and organizations working on the ground to ensure that programmes and policies in response to this crisis put the rights and needs of all children first. It is also working to expand humanitarian services at reception centres in transit countries, including providing water and age-appropriate food, and establishing child-friendly spaces, where children can play and benefit from psychosocial support and women can rest and take care of their babies.
At the same time, there are still millions caught in situations of conflict, displacement, poverty and underdevelopment – the main causes of the crisis – and UNICEF remains committed in its effort to supporting sustainable solutions where they are needed most.