Save the Children Statement: US and EU Position on Child Detention Threatens to Jeopardize Global Deal to Tackle Refugee Crisis

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 2, 2016) — Recent efforts by the US government, with EU support, to water down language on the detention of refugee and migrant children are deeply concerning and go against international standards, warns Save the Children.

Commenting on negotiations in New York in advance of the UN refugee and migration summit in September, Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children said: "This Summit was meant to bring member states together to find new solutions to the most pressing global challenge of our time — to help millions of people on the move, including those fleeing war and persecution. Instead, UN member states are arguing over existing rules and values. Anything less than full support for ending the practice of detaining children on the basis of their or their parents’ migration status would be a huge step backwards.

Children made up more than half of the 65 million people displaced by conflict and persecution in 2015, and are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse while on the move and at borders. Together with other leading NGOs, Save the Children has been calling for Member States at the Summit to recognize their obligations under international and regional human rights treaties to protect children’s best interests and to commit to ending their detention.

"The de facto detention of children — the likes of which we are seeing on the Greek Islands — must not become a new normal. World leaders must live up to their existing commitments to ensure that the most vulnerable people on the move, including children, are treated with dignity and have their rights respected," added Miles.

"The EU and US should be raising the bar, not lowering it. While we have seen some positive developments in other parts of the political declaration, these negotiations should result overall in an ambitious and meaningful solution for millions of refugee and migrant children, which focuses first and foremost on their protection. This means developing a global system that ensures governments share responsibility for welcoming, protecting and assisting refugee and migrant children, and setting out a clear roadmap for a new deal on safe, orderly and regular migration that respects human rights.

"A Global Compact that threatens to leave children at borders at increased risk is not a solution, and should be rejected."

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


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