Supporting the choices of irregular child migrants

European Union cooperation with Turkey and Libya and the family separation crisis in the United States show global failures in reconciling ‘tough’ border policies with every child’s right to live free from violence and exploitation. Many child protection measures in Western destination countries do not address children’s needs before or during difficult journeys. Effective and responsible early intervention can reduce the number in need of emergency protection, with better outcomes for children and a cost-conscious international humanitarian community.

This Seefar issue brief examines the following question: how can targeted support for children’s decisions around migration help them achieve better outcomes? With good data that recognises their unique profile and needs, children’s own agency can be a powerful tool for change. The main highlights from the report are:

  • Intervention before children leave home has the potential to drastically reduce the vulnerability of hundreds of thousands of children migrating irregularly each year.
  • Children thinking about irregular migration need specialist support in processing migration information and making decisions.
  • Children react to their environment, process information, and weigh risks and rewards differently than adults.
  • Communications specialists, child psychologists and child protection experts can develop a child-friendly and strategic approach to communications with children on the move.

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