Geneva, March 19, 2017: The U.N. children’s fund finds thousands of refugee and migrant children are more vulnerable to deportation and exploitation today than when the European Union-Turkey agreement to stop mass migration flows from Turkey into Europe was enacted one year ago.
UNICEF acknowledges the EU-Turkey deal succeeded in significantly decreasing the number of refugee and migrant children on the move in Europe. However, it notes a disquieting increase in the threats and distress these children endure.
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UNICEF says the underlying causes that prompted children and their families to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea one year ago remain, as millions of people are still affected by the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
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“We observe a very concerning increase of the number of children kept under detention because of their migration status,” said Lucio Melandri, UNICEF senior emergency manager. “So, we see in many countries a number of children that are simply detained for long periods and they are finally kept under what we define as unacceptable situations.”
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Melandri says children who are locked up in detention or stranded on an island for long periods of time suffer from psychological problems. Rather than remaining trapped in Greece or Italy, he says, many unaccompanied children take matters into their own hands to escape.
They will “try alone to contact criminal organizations, to try to cross borders in the night,” Melandri said. “In many cases, these children who are moving alone are leading them to be eventually identified, put under detention. In many cases, we are observing with concern an increasing trend of migrants but, particularly, even children that are simply pushed back.”
Under the EU-Turkey agreement, 120,000 refugees were supposed to have been relocated from Greece and Italy into other European Union member states. To date, UNICEF reports, just over 14,400 children and their families have found new homes, mainly in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Melandri says the EU should live up to its promises by protecting refugee and migrant children and not leaving them in substandard conditions and emotional distress. (VOA)
More than 40 percent of Syrian refugee children living in neighboring countries are not being educated and the number is rising due to a lack of funding and bullying in schools, children’s rights group KidsRights said on Tuesday.
Despite world leaders agreeing at a 2016 conference to enroll all Syrian refugee children into school by late 2017, KidsRights said 43 percent of Syrian children in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq still don’t have access to an education.
The report said about 777,000 of 1.8 million registered Syrian children in the five countries were not being educated at the end of 2017 – which was nearly 250,000 more out of school than in 2016.
KidsRights said failing to educate Syrian children would lead to a “lost generation” and seriously impact efforts to rebuild the country now entering its eighth year of the war.
“The successful reconstruction of post-conflict Syria by a young generation of Syrians will stand or fall by the level of educational access we can offer them,” Marc Dullaert, the founder and chairman of KidsRights, said in a statement.
Syria’s conflict began in 2011 with a popular uprising and has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced 11 million more.
A generation of young children has grown up without proper education, with 180,000 youths forced into child labor, the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF says.
The report, released at the second Leaders and Laureates for Children Summit on Jordan on Tuesday, said the rising number of children out of school was due to a lack of funding for Syrian refugees and restrictive policies by host countries.
In addition, Syrian school children enrolled in school have encountered issues with harassment and bullying, leading to their removal by their families, the report said.
KidsRights called for international donors and host governments meeting in Brussels in April again this year to urgently fill a $603 million funding gap and make education a priority. VOA