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30 November 2016
EU institutions and Member States must do more to protect refugee and migrant children. This is said in a joint statement that was published to mark the opening of the 10th European Forum on the Rights of the Child that took place from 28-30 November 2016 in Brussels. The statement was signed by 78 children's rights organisations, including the Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP). SCEP is deeply concerned about the fact that too little has been done to address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of separated children in Europe.
In the joint statement 'Children cannot wait', the 78 children's rights organisations express their concerns about the failure to prioritise the protection of children. Too little has been done by the EU and it's Member States to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of children. Children in Sweden, for example, can often wait up to one year for their asylum cases to be heard. Children stranded in Greece have been out of school an average of 20 months. Many children have to wait more than a year to reach family members in other EU Member States – a dangerous delay that causes children to disappear or turn to smugglers.
In the joint statement identifies seven priority actions to protect refugee and migrant children today and prepare them for the future. These actions include the urgent adoption of an EU Action Plan on children in migration, strengthened safeguards for children in the asylum legislation, increased funding for national child protection systems and building mechanisms to protect children across borders. So far, actions at EU level have been scattered and insufficient. What is needed now is comprehensive action on children in migration, bringing together all responsible authorities and encouraging states to better collect and share data. The reform of the common European asylum system, currently debated in the European Parliament, provides a unique opportunity to ensure children get access to guardians, education and family reunification. EU Action is also needed to end the detention of migrant and refugee children, and the identification of alternatives.
Please click here for the joint statement 'Children cannot wait'