The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has entreated governments to support and adopt their plan to protect children moving across international borders. Ahead of the G7 Summit taking place in Sicily, Italy this year, UNICEF presented their plan of action: a six-point plan detailing the steps that need to be taken to protect unaccompanied and separated minors. These points are:
- Protect uprooted children from violence and exploitation
- End the detention of refugee and migrant children by creating practical alternatives
- Keep families together and give children legal status
- Help uprooted children stay in school and stay healthy
- Press for action on the causes that uproot children from their homes
- Combat xenophobia and discrimination.
This plan of action is a significant aspect of the latest campaign launched by UNICEF, #UprootedChildren. This campaign’s focus is on refugee and migrant children, vulnerable as they are to trafficking, abuse, and exploitation. In part, because there are few options to move around legally. These refugees and migrants are leaving their homes to escape from poverty, violence and conflict, and natural disasters, or simply to make a better life for themselves.
Child migration has seen an unfortunate rise in the last two years. According to a report released by UNICEF, between 2015 and 2016, 300,000 unaccompanied minors moving across borders were registered in 80 countries. This is a five-fold increase from the numbers of 2010-2011, which were 66,000. This does not account for the number of unregistered minors on the move, which is speculated to be much higher.
As the report details, there are few opportunities for these children to cross borders legally and safely, and they and their families may face aggressive opposition from border security to be allowed to leave their countries. Therefore, they may resort to traveling through unsafe and perilous channels, or seek help from smugglers, who may sell them to traffickers or exploit them for their own agenda.
Addressing this pressing crisis, UNICEF urged the leaders convening at the G7 Summit to be among the first to support and commit to their proposed six-point plan of action.
“These children need a real commitment from governments around the world to ensure their safety throughout their journeys.” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said in a press release.
To read the UNICEF report, click here.