Throughout the world, children flee peril in their place of origin, but often they exchange one set of dangers for another. A new report published today by Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights finds that protection for children on the move, particularly during time of transit, is lacking worldwide.
Children on the Move: An Urgent Human Rights and Child Protection Priority, which began as a research project commissioned by the Oak Foundation, documents the dramatic protection failures (including pervasive exposure to sexual exploitation and abuse) of migrant children involved in various forms of distress migration – ranging from refugee flight to humanitarian movement to exploitative labor or sex-related forced migration. The report details the incomplete patchwork of legal provisions relevant to the protection of these children, along with the social ecology of risk as it manifests itself at different points across the migration trajectory. It includes seven case studies analyzing a range of diverse situations in geographical locations spanning North America to Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The report also includes targeted recommendations for improving access to effective child protection for the extensive and growing populations of children of the move. As the report notes, “Although international human rights law requires states to provide each child with a basic level of care and protection, this is too often contingent upon a determination of legality or status. The protection of these individual rights is also impacted when the numbers of children on the move are particularly great.”
At this critical point in which the intersection of mass migration, global inequality, and child violence is increasingly under public scrutiny, only a coordinated, multi-level response will effectively increase protective environments for young people at risk of exploitation and abuse and promote their healthy growth and development into adulthood, whether or not they migrate. The report is available from the Children on the Move page of the FXB website.