Civil society reminds EU leaders to protect vulnerable children and expand safe pathways

A refugee child in JordanA refugee child in Jordan. Photo: ICMC / Stefano Schirato Brussels, 8 March 2017 - More than 160 organizations from more than 20 countries called on EU heads of State and government to uphold the founding values and principles of the European Union and take leadership by showing solidarity with refugees and migrants, ahead of the Council Meeting taking place 9-10 March.

Since the summer of 2015, European leaders have focused its cooperation with third countries across the Mediterranean on halting arrivals to Europe with serious implications to ensure protection for those who need it most, especially vulnerable women and children on the move. ICMC Europe is particularly concerned about the new EU Action Plan on Return, earmarking around 200 million to speed up returns. The proposals would allow children to be detained, with or without their families, for long periods of time. “Detaining children has a traumatizing effect and has a disastrous impact on their development and wellbeing,” says Petra Hueck, ICMC Europe's Head of Office. “EU leaders need to speak up and ensure adequate action to effectively protect children and their families”.

Such action should include expanding safe and regular pathways to Europe, such as increasing resettlement spaces, extended family reunification schemes and private sponsorships. The EU called in 2015 to resettle 22,504 persons before then end of 2017. As of March of 2017 however, only 13,968 have been resettled.