Special Representative on violence against children pleads for the end of cycle of neglect and abuse against refugee and migrant children
Athens (Greece) 14 November 2017 - On a three-day visit to Greece, Special Representative Santos Pais met with children living in a refugee camp in Athens, from whom she heard painful as well as inspiring stories of courage and resilience. The visit was organized in the framework of a meeting of European Independent Children’s Rights Institutions, held in Athens to identify challenges and provide recommendations for future action to ensure the safeguard of refugee and migrant children across Europe.
“For children who travel unaccompanied or separated from their families, violence infuses daily life. It is urgent to transform this vicious cycle of abuse and exploitation into a continuum of protection of children's rights,” SRSG Santos Pais stressed. As a young boy from Iraq told me “The only thing I want everyone to know is that refugees are people just like you (doctors, teachers, programmers); so you should not treat them as worthless people! Life should move on no matter where. So, the best thing you can do for refugee children is to make their family reunification quicker, cause waiting this long makes one hopeless.”
To address the situation of children on the move, the Special Representative is conducting a thematic report on this topic in collaboration with UN partners, national governments and civil society organizations. The study is informed by children’s views and recommendations and by the work of Ombuds for Children. “Independent child rights institutions play a critical role in this effort: they safeguard children's best interests at all times; they promote policy decisions informed by children's voices and experiences, and they monitor progress in children's safety and wellbeing."