New EU Migration Pact ‘could not be worse’ for refugee children


The passing of the new EU Pact on Migration & Asylum will ‘significantly weaken’ protections for children who are fleeing war, hunger and threat to life, says Save the Children.

It follows a decision by the European Union and its Member States to pass the new pact which, says the global charity, undermines children and families’ right to seek asylum in Europe, and expose them to greater risks of detention, pushbacks and destitution at the continent’s borders.

Save The Children is calling on the authorities in charge of implementing the pact to prioritise the protection of children and take steps to address and minimise any risks that could harm their rights.

The decisions made by national authorities regarding border procedures, child protection measures, and monitoring systems will, it believes, ‘make a major difference in the lives and wellbeing of children and families seeking safety in Europe’.

First launched in draft form September 2020, the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum is package of policy proposals and recommendations in the areas of migration, asylum, integration and border management. The definitive agreement was finalised towards the end of 2023, and was formally approved Members of the European Parliament earlier this month.

These rules could end exacerbating the suffering of children arriving in Europe

Willy Bergogné, Save the Children Europe’s Director and EU Representative said the decision ‘could not have been worse’ for children and their families seeking refuge in Europe.

“It’s clear that the European Parliament and its EU Member States have prioritised restricting access to Europe over the urgent protection of vulnerable children escaping conflict, persecution, hunger, forced marriages and extreme poverty,” said Bergogné.

“Now, all families, even those travelling with very small children, could end up spending weeks or months in detention centres. These children should be at school, making happy memories – not painful ones in detention centres that will no doubt impact them for years to come.

“All children arriving in Europe deserve to meet a system that recognises their needs, treats them with compassion and dignity, and protects them from harm. Sadly, these rules could end up exacerbating the suffering and the distress of thousands of children in need of protection.

“Save the Children remains committed to children and families on the move, making sure that their needs are met, and rights are respected, and will continue to provide crucial support across Europe. The role of organisations like ours becomes more important than ever, as child rights are put at risk by restrictive policies that fail to address the most important shortcomings of the current asylum system.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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