Since 2015, a growing number of migrant children have arrived in Europe – often unaccompanied. With protection systems at local level being strained and EU member states not fully complying with solidarity mechanisms, children have increasingly found themselves at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. According to Europol, at least 10 000 unaccompanied children went missing in 2015. Children continue to disappear, due to poor conditions in some reception centers, which we would never accept for our children, lack of information on their rights and options, slow & complex procedures for protection, lack of training of professionals in contact with children, and lack of coordination at national and cross-border level. Human traffickers have increasingly targeted children in migration, in particular when they are unaccompanied, as they are often not looked for and are extremely profitable.
In May 2015, the European Commission adopted an EU Agenda on Migration in which it promised to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect children in migration. In November 2016 the European Commission organised the EU Forum on the rights of the child, focusing on children in migration. At this meeting, NGOs demanded that the Commission follow up on its commitment to develop this strategy, emphasising that an ”EU Action Plan on all refugee and migrant children is necessary to coordinate actions and mobilise resources. It would represent EU commitment at the highest level, effectively bring together the various responsible authorities, agencies and civil society in Member States and in the EU, and develop more concrete and well-resourced processes and actions for these young newcomers.”
In January 2017, coinciding with the European Justice and Home Affairs Council, Missing Children Europe and the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Well-Being of Society, with the support of the European Platform on Integration and Migration (EPIM), brought together 160 professionals and experts to discuss the child protection challenges that lead to disappearances of these children. Conclusions of this conference – entitled “Lost in Migration” - were endorsed by over 50 organisations, and shared with national and European authorities. In February 2017, Members of the European Parliament submitted an oral question in plenary, calling upon the Commission to follow up on the recommendations of the Lost in Migration conference. In April 2017, the European Commission eventually adopted the long-awaited strategy on the protection of children in migration, outlining 37 priority actions for the European and national level. The strategy cited the conclusions from the Lost in Migration conference.
In November 2017, the European Commission organised the 11th Forum on the Rights of the Child with a focus on children deprived of liberty (children in conflict with the law, immigration detention, children in institutions and children of parents in prison) and alternatives to detention, ahead of the UN global study on children deprived of liberty, the theme of this edition of the Forum.
In April 2018, Missing Children Europe, the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Well-Being of Society, Members of the European Parliament, the Intergroup on the Rights of the Child and the EPIM foundation, will convene a meeting in Brussels to:
- Take stock of the progress achieved since the adoption of the EC Communication on the protection of children in migration
- Identify good / promising practices in the implementation of the commitments from the local level
- Outline recommendations on the way forward
Registrations to open soon