With more than 42 million children displaced worldwide and increasing exposure to multiple forms of violence, the Office of the Special Representative on Violence against Children co-launched a new brief, Protecting the Rights of Children on the Move in Times of Crisis, which draws on past lessons, and outlines key principles to boost child protection.
In this unprecedented joint call, the Special Representative Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, was joined by the head of the UN human rights office (OHCHR), refugee agency UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the UN migration agency (IOM) - in close partnership with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings – who stressed that “protection of all children, independently of their status, is more necessary than ever.”
This includes investing in strong rights-based national protection systems that include displaced children, rather than excluding them or creating separate services for them, says the brief, which has proven to be more sustainable and effective in the long-term.
As millions of children are displaced, often for many years, by crises such as armed conflicts, political instability, climate change – and it’s associated fallout for health and economic survival - the best interests of the child must be the primary consideration, the brief states.
Full protection requires translating good intentions into concrete and sustained actions, ensuring non-discriminatory access to national services.
This includes civil documentation such as birth registration, social welfare, justice, health, education, and social protection - for all children, without distinction or exclusion based on their migration status.
Spanish film star and campaigner, Penelope Cruz joined the call, emphasizing that we all have a role to play in protecting children from violence: “Children must be protected everywhere and in all circumstances. Keeping all children safe from harm and promoting their wellbeing with particular attention to those is crisis situations is – and must be – everybody’s business.
“Let's be united in creating a world free from violence against children”, she declared.