Children are affected by migration in different ways: they are left behind by migrant parents; they are brought along by their migrating parents; and they migrate alone, independent of parents or other adult guardians. According to UNICEF in 2016, 44 million children were living in forced displacement, either internally or outside their home country. This global issue is also a major issue in the Horn of Africa region. Countries in the region, particularly Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan, are significant host, transit, and/or destination countries for irregular migration of children.
Organised by the Better Migration Management (BMM) Programme with the support of Safe the Children International (SCI), the “Regional Conference on the Protection of Child Migrants in the Horn of Africa” took place in Djibouti on 12-13 March 2018 to address the safety and dignity of children migrating in the Horn of Africa. More than 170 international, regional and national experts attended. State representatives and experts from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Denmark, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Germany, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, and more, as well as of the EU discussed with international experts from UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, as well as BMM’s implementing partners, such as GIZ, IOM, and UNODC, and Civil Society Organisations. The conference was .
‘Two out of three child migrants in Africa have been trafficked’ said Steve Morgan, director of the SCI Migration and Displacement Initiative. The participants discussed potential ways to address these challenges, as well as possible activities to support best interest determination of children migrating irregularly. In addition, the participants agreed that immigration detention of children must be avoided because it is harmful to their mental, physical, emotional, and developmental well-being. Many experts suggested safe spaces to enhance the protection of migrating children and to include the provision of services and referral mechanisms of civil society. They also stated a need for capacity building of social workers, justice officers, and border officials to better identify and refer children to protection services.
Following the conference, the recommendations of the participants will be presented to relevant state representatives and other key stakeholders throughout the Horn of Africa region to promote better policy solutions for these vulnerable child migrants. In due time, it will be decided which activities will be implemented under the Better Migration Management (BMM) Programme.
Find statements on the conference of the EU Ambassador to Djibouti Adam Kulach and BMM Programme Director Sabine Wenz in a short video.
- Publication date
- 29 March 2018
- Region and Country
- Regional Horn of AfricaDjibouti
- Improved migration management