Protecting unaccompanied children on the move: Holy See, ICMC and Caritas host UN Human Rights Council side event
Geneva, 6 March 2017 - Never before has the international community witnessed such high numbers of children, unaccompanied or separated from their families, seeking asylum abroad. On the backdrop of a dramatic international context where minors are too often bearing the consequences of mass migratory movements, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), and Caritas Internationalis convened an event on 15 March on the side of the 34th United Nations Human Rights Council, addressing the many challenges faced by unaccompanied children on the move.
According to United Nations figures, 112,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 83 countries in 2015 alone. These children – often sent abroad by their parents in search of better opportunities, or otherwise finding themselves alone half way through their migration journey – are especially vulnerable to human traffickers, sexual predators, and a number of life-threatening situations. After registering with State authorities in Europe, too many of them go missing, having fallen in the hands of trafficking syndicates and other dangerous criminal networks. In this difficult situation, the Holy See and many Catholic organizations play a crucial role in the protection of migrants and refugees, serving on the front line of displacement crises and advocating for the respect of children’s rights.
Convened with the aim of sustaining the concern and attention towards unaccompanied migrant children, the event saw the participation of prominent speakers from both governmental and civil society organizations active in the field. The list of panelists included Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Mr William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Rev. Fabio Baggio, Co-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s newly-established Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, and Ms Carol Batchelor, Director of International Protection at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Watch the TV report on EWTN
Listen to the EWTN interview with ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo