In 1954 the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries recognize Universal Children’s Day, on the 20th of November, every year, for the purpose of promoting the well-being of every child around the world. The reason being that:
…children and youth are the future of our societies. The truth is that they are also the present. Our children are agents of change within their families and communities and their right to be heard and to participate in a meaningful way to the development of society must be fully respected.
Unfortunately, for many children of refugee status, they are left silent especially in their pursuit and right to an education. Shelby Nicks compares the focus on Syrian refugee children by governments around the world, currently, in providing educational opportunities for Syrian refugees with the lack of focus on promoting the well-being and educational opportunities of Afghan refugees. There are even more refugee communities and children around the world who still lack their right to be the future of today and tomorrow through education, health, security, etc.; almost 250 million children live in conflict torn countries, and 2.4 billion do not have access to adequate toilets.
Focusing on the safety of refugee’s and migrant children as 31 million children live outside of their countries of birth and 11 million of them are forcibly displaced, the following are asked of governments by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS):
- Providing safe and legal channels of entry
- Implementing protection mechanisms and employing better asylum policies
- Implementing laws that curb demand for trafficking
- Promoting alternatives to detention
- Ensuring that no school, law enforcement mechanism, refugee camp or nation refuses any innocent child who crosses their borders
To create a fair place for refugee and migrant children, in accordance with the principles of Universal Children’s Day and to eliminate some of the above inequalities, countries need to work with the UN, civil societies, and other stakeholders in integrating refugee and migrant children in their societies. Without the follow through of JRS’s first recommendation, countries cannot say that they are committed to the well-being and educational opportunities of all children. Once the above recommendations are enacted, only then, can we truly celebrate Universal Children’s Day- children’s rights to be heard and seen as agents of change.
- EU Affairs. (2016, November 18). Universal children’s day:one in four asylum applicants in europe is a child. The Brussels Times. Retrieved from http://www.brusselstimes.com/eu-affairs/6957/universal-children-s-day-one-in-four-asylum-applicants-in-europe-is-a-child.
- Global Newsroom. (2016 November 17). Bringing light to the child migrants in our midst. Jesuit Refugee Service. Retrieved from. http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20161115090912.
- UN. (2016 November 20). On universal children’s day, un says world remains ‘deeply unfair’ place for children. UN News Centre. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52618#.WEM_5XeZPR2.