Universal Children’s Day: How to Create a ‘Fair’ Place for Refugee and Migrant Children| By Bintou Diallo

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:

childrensday

Angela Wells (Jesuit Refugee Service)

…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.


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2 thoughts on “Universal Children’s Day: How to Create a ‘Fair’ Place for Refugee and Migrant Children| By Bintou Diallo

  1. Rabani Garg says:

    Hi Bintou,
    You are right that the civil society, UN and nation states need to work together to ensure children’s welfare.
    But I think about the many refugee groups that go under the radar. Whose voice gets heard and why? For example the plight of Tibet under China. And how do we ensure that power and politics stay out of this. There are groups that are not in mainstream media anymore. In such cases how do we ensure this elimination of Inequality?
    Your post made me think of a community that I have not read anything about recently. And I appreciate that.
    Rabani

    Like

  2. Bintou Diallo says:

    Thank you for your comment Rabani!

    I think its less about ensuring that power and politics stay out of such discussions. It is more about ensuring that refugee groups and other silenced groups are not seen as voiceless. Ultimately, a system of sharing in power (many different forms) and recognition by everyone that in some way their being is engaging in political action so they have to figure out how to take hold of a microphone while also building a platform to be heard.Though written simply, this is very difficult; your questions demonstrate this.

    Like

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