UN Highlights Child Refugees’ Plight, Prepares for 2018 Migration Conference
UN Photo/John Isaac
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UNICEF's child alert, 'A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migrant Route,' finds that three-quarters of refugee and migrant children surveyed experienced violence of some kind while on their journeys, and outlines a six-point agenda for action.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) convened the 15th Coordination Meeting on International Migration, in preparation for the 2018 intergovernmental conference.

Health ministers in Asia adopted the Colombo Statement on the need for health systems to provide equitable, non-discriminatory health services to migrants.

28 February 2017: The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that children fleeing conflict in sub-Saharan Africa meet fresh dangers as they travel across North Africa to Europe, and is calling on the international community to take urgent action. Meanwhile, UN officials and Member States met in New York in preparation for the 2018 conference on refugees and migrants, and health ministers in Asia called for providing equitable, non-discriminatory health services to migrants.

The UNICEF child alert, titled ‘A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migrant Route,’ finds that three-quarters of refugee and migrant children surveyed experienced violence of some kind, and almost half of all women and children interviewed had experienced sexual abuse while on their journeys. Afshan Khan, UNICEF, noted that the Central Mediterranean migration route is one of the world’s deadliest and most dangerous for children and women; in 2016, more than 4,500 people died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya, including at least 700 children.

UNICEF is encouraging governments and the EU to adopt a six-point agenda for action, to: protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence; end the detention of children; keep families together; provide education, health and other services to refugee and migrant children; address the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants; and combat xenophobia and discrimination.

From 15-16 February 2017, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) convened the 15th Coordination Meeting on International Migration, in New York, US, to take stock of progress in implementing international commitments on migration, including the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in September 2016, and to review substantive preparations for the 2018 intergovernmental conference on international migration. The 2018 conference is expected to produce a negotiated outcome in the form of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Five regional consultations will convene between August and November 2017 to discuss the global compact on migration.

Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo called for addressing the root causes of displacement, forcefully rejecting discrimination against migrants and refugees, and responding to misrepresentations with truth and “a clearheaded understanding of the facts.” Amr Nour, Director, Regional Commissions New York Office, noted the predominance of intra-regional migration, and highlighted the value of regional consultations that will take into account the specific nature of migration dynamics in different regions. He encouraged negotiators to provide appropriate guidance to countries facing very different situations. He also announced the modalities and timing of forthcoming regional consultations on the global compact, including: a three-day consultation in Bangkok, Thailand, in August 2017; a two-day ministerial-level conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in September 2017; a two-day regional consultation in Santiago, Chile, in October 2017; and a two-day consultation in Cairo, Egypt, in October or November 2017.

Also in February, health ministers from several Asian countries adopted the ‘Colombo Statement,’ calling for international collaboration to improve the health and well being of migrants and their families. The statement was adopted at the end of the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health, which took place from 21-23 February 2017, hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Colombo Statement calls for strengthening health systems to provide equitable, non-discriminatory health services to migrants, and is expected to feed into discussions on migrants’ right to health, which will take place at the World Health Assembly in May 2017.

Davide Mosca, IOM, highlighted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address migrant health through target 10.7 on facilitating orderly, safe and responsible migration and mobility of people, and target 3.8 on achieving universal health coverage (UHC). [A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route] [UNICEF Press Release] [Multimedia Materials] [DESA Press Release on 15th Coordination Meeting] [DESA Webpage on 15th Coordination Meeting] [UN Regional Commissions Statement] [Joint Press Release on Colombo Statement] [Colombo Statement] [IOM Webpage on 2nd Global Consultation] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Negotiations for Global Compact]


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