This month, we marked World Refugee Day with the launch of our Childhood On The Move Initiative. In seven countries, we are campaigning to ensure that no child grows up without a family as a result of living a life with no fixed residence.
Around the world, tens of millions of children are on the move. This includes the estimated 35.5 million international child migrants globally, but also children who have been forcibly displaced either within their countries or across borders – a figure which has doubled over the past 10 years. The causes of movements are often complex and fall along a spectrum from forced to voluntary. They range from displacement due to conflict or natural disasters, to migration as a strategy to access rights and opportunities.
Such movement can prove essential in providing children and families the chance not only of immediate safety but of improved quality of life and freedoms that they are unable to access in their communities of origin. However, it can also place children at increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, and without adequate support, can compromise their health, education and overall wellbeing. For unaccompanied children separated from their families, these risks are particularly high.
Anne-Marie Barry is the Programme Advisor who coordinates the Working Group of members that are taking part. She says, “We’re standing up for children and families on the move through our Childhood On The Move Initiative – a set of diverse campaigns being run by members of the Family for Every Child alliance in seven countries. Over the coming months, we’re taking action in these countries to reduce family separation, and to give children the opportunity to find family life again when it does happen.”
Stella and her team, at Family member ‘Taller de Vida’ in Colombia, have been amongst the first to launch their national campaign. They are focusing on the needs of indigenous, black and mixed-race children who have found themselves in areas of particular upheaval, who face marginalisation and are particularly impacted by conflict and other drivers of displacement. They are calling on the Colombian government and international organisations to increase the support available, such as ensuring provision of healthcare, shelter and education, as well as access to other fundamental rights. This video – the first of a number we are producing – introduce some of the issues faced in the area.
Miguel Ángel, from Family member ‘CONACMI’ in Guatemala, has been visiting protection and shelter centres in Mexico and the USA where Guatemalan children often find themselves during their migration journeys to the USA. This provides an opportunity to learn more about their needs, as well as to advocate for better support to ensure safe transit, to ensure their fundamental rights are met, and to push for opportunities for family reintegration.
The Childhood On The Move Initiative encompasses campaigns in seven countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico and Nepal. Each campaign focuses on the distinct context faced by children and families where we work. To learn more about the objectives and actions of each campaign, please visit familyforeverychild.org/childhoodonthemove. Please also follow us on social media to stay up-to-date as we share our progress over the coming months.