ICMC urges governments to protect migrant and refugee children

Refugee children in Ethiopia camp"Children are the first to suffer," the Pope reminded in his appeal ahead of Universal Children Day on 20 November. Photo: ICMC / N. Perroud Rome, 17 November 2016 - On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) joins with the Holy See's Department for Promoting Integral Human Development and seven global Catholic networks standing in solidarity with all migrant and refugee children whose lives are threatened by conflicts, persecution, and poverty.

In a statement issued today, the organizations join Pope Francis in his appeal to protect children, who “constitute the most vulnerable group because, as they face the life ahead of them, they are invisible and voiceless”.

Often traveling on their own and thus becoming an easy target for smugglers and traffickers, children are more than anyone else at risk of abuse and exploitation. During last year alone, the statement notes, 68% of the world’s trafficked persons were children - with about 10,000 gone missing after reaching the supposedly safer European shores. The threat of being expelled to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened, the lack of safe learning environments, and arbitrary detentions hinder the well-being of migrant children on top of the suffering that so many have experienced during death-defying journeys.

The signatories of the statement urged governments to endorse the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, unanimously called for at the UN General Assembly Summit on Refugees and Migrants in September, and to establish safe and legal channels of entry to save children’s lives and concretely combat trafficking.

The statement is available below in English, Spanish, French and Italian.