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More ‘safe spaces’ on the way for migrant children and families in Colombian cities

This project aims to give children from 0 to 5 years of age a good start in life. Photo courtesy of OIM Colombia

Migrant and refugee children in three Colombian cities will soon be able to access ‘safe spaces’ thanks to work led and now expanded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

The north-eastern city of Valledupar is already home to one such initiative, aimed at giving migrant children and their families the vital space they need to integrate into the community, with opportunities to play, grow and develop.

Now the foundation, which works globally to improve the lives of children in cities, is working with the International Organization for Migration (IoM) to extend this work into the capital Bogotá, along with Barranquilla and Atlántico.

It includes a strategy to promote family integration into communities, including new psychosocial care methodology. This covers three areas: caregiver care, the promotion of children’s rights, and the strengthening of positive parenting based on care for all.

The project also offers training sessions to local and national organisations, plus those institutions in charge of child protection in Colombia, including the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF). The aim is to strengthen knowledge on issues related to children growing up within a human mobility context.

‘We seek to intervene early’

Andrea Torres Sansotta, Programme Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, said: “On many occasions, migrant and refugee children are exposed to various factors that can affect their optimal development. Through this partnership with IOM, we seek to intervene early in these factors, strengthen physical spaces that can welcome and accompany children and their families so that they can have the best possible start in life.”

Alessia Schiavon, Deputy Chief of Mission for the IoM, added: “With this initiative, IOM once again reaffirms its commitment to the protection and guarantee of the rights of all children and adolescents in the country, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or nationality.

“Attending to refugee and migrant early childhood is the first step in promoting regular migration. Therefore, thanks to this project, we will be able to contribute to the healthy growth of more than 2,000 boys and girls and strengthen the accompaniment of their mothers, fathers and caregivers.”

Click here for more information on the project from the IoM (Spanish only).

Author: Simon Weedy

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