in Europe

Rights of children on the move remain violated within Europe – Terre des hommes celebrates the 14th International Migrants Day


December 18th marks the International Migrants Day which has a particular resonance in the current context of increasing migration flows to Europe. Recurring conflicts in the Middle East – best exemplified today by the current Syrian crisis – as well as natural disasters, discrimination and exclusion continue to force children and families to flee their countries of origin and seek protection.
Terre des hommes as a leading child rights organisation would like to observe this day by reaffirming its commitment to the protection and promotion of the rights of all children on the move which too often remain more illusory than real.
In the framework of its campaign Destination Unknown, Terre des hommes is striving among other things to end the detention of children on the move which unfortunately remains widespread throughout Europe, improve their reception conditions and ensure that their best interests are at the core of any decision taken for and with them. The critical situation faced by children and families arriving in Europe in search for protection remains a major concern of Terre des hommes.
However, European children also move largely within the region and are deprived of fundamental protection due to their European nationalities. Romanian and Bulgarian children are found in big numbers all across the region, alone or accompanied, many in very vulnerable situations. The Regional Office for Central and South Eastern Europe of Terre des hommes and its partners in the framework of the Mario project contributed to evidence this continuous marginalisation and exclusion from services of European children on the move: as European children, their status differs and they cannot enter traditional protection schemes such as those offered by the asylum systems, reserved for third country nationals (such as appointment of a guardian to represent the child, etc). European children should in turn benefit from the same protection schemes as national children, but these are often not adapted to their specific needs and fall between the cracks of the protection systems.
Through 5 transnational researches focussing on the migration of Romanian, Bulgarian and Albanian children throughout Europe, Mario project partners have in 5 days identified and exchanged with more than 250 Central and South East European children carrying out economic activities in other country than theirs and living or working roughly in the streets and highly vulnerable to diverse human rights violations.
The administrative invisibility of these populations who do not benefit from protection schemes offered to third country national children, results in a total absence of preventive approaches and offer of services to alleviate the high degree of vulnerability of European children on the move to exploitation and trafficking.
The researches evidenced the continuous exclusion that these children and families are experiencing all along their migration path, from a segregation in countries of origin to a complete exclusion from available protection schemes in countries of destination.
Terre des hommes and its partners will continue to promote the voice of children on the move in Europe and denounce the perpetuation of the cycle of disadvantage affecting children from vulnerable communities, including Roma, who are deprived from their fundamental rights, in their countries of origin but also in destination.