Protecting Children in Crisis

by Krista Oehlke
Young street vendor with smoke, Varanasi Benares India

October 21, 2015. Jacqueline Bhabha yesterday launched this year’s child protection curriculum with a brown bag lunchtime talk entitled “Child Protection and Migration: From Crisis to Crisis.” Bhabha focused on some of the chief protection issues child migrants are facing in today’s world and demanded an overhaul of the way we address them.

“Child migration needs to be a central aspect of how we think about in-country resources,” said Bhabha, underscoring some of the grave consequences of child migration and neglect – increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS and sexual violence and exploitation, to name a few. Bhabha noted that while scores of migrants are now arriving at the doors of EU countries, due to the Syrian refugee crisis, camps have less than 50 percent of the resources that they need.

She called for a reconceptualizing of the way we think about child migrants. Bhabha emphasized the need to reform the irrational arrival process with which so many are confronted.“We need to think aggressively about safe transport, forging a new paradigm for thinking more proactively,” she said.

Bhabha also noted the need, in cases where children are unaccompanied, for certain necessities and rights be ensured, calling these non-negotiable. Such children have a right to guardianship and access to free legal services, for instance.

“We need to take advantage of this moment to move the issue of child migration higher up on the agenda,” Bhabha said, stressing the need for the European Union – and the rest of the world – to do more.

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