L’Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations, Save the Children et Terre des hommes Lausanne réaffirment l’importance de protéger les enfants en mobilité. Crédit Photo : OIM.

Dakar – One month after World Children’s Day and in the wake of International Migrants Day, celebrated annually around the world on 20 November and 18 December respectively, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and international non-governmental organizations Save the Children and Terre des Hommes Lausanne joined forces to reiterate the importance of protecting children on the move.

Over 11 million children are on the move in West and Central Africa. Some are forced to move, others migrate in search of economic, social, or cultural opportunities. Although migration is an important factor for development, ill-intentioned individuals, acting alone or in a network, sometimes break the prospects of migrant children and youth. As a result, they turn opportunities into situations of abuse or exploitation, or even trafficking in persons. They take advantage of the vulnerable situation of migrant children and young people and sometimes force them to perform dangerous or forced labour.

In West and Central Africa, IOM, Save the Children and Terre des Hommes work closely with other UN agencies, civil society, governments, and communities to protect all children on the move. With funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the two organisations and their respective partners have assisted nearly 15,000 children on the move since 2017.

“We work with and for children to promote and defend their fundamental rights. All our interventions are guided by the promotion of their best interests, participation, development, and survival as well as non-discrimination,” explains Claire Laroche, Protection Officer for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Sahel and Lake Chad. She adds: “Through the Joint Initiative we have been able to strengthen and build key partnerships to ensure greater protection for migrant children along the main migration routes in the region.”

“We support children and young people who move within national borders and/or sub-regionally, with their families or alone, with different assistance services tailored to their specific needs, including psychosocial support, medical care, hygiene and clothing kits, temporary accommodation, while respecting their best interests,” explains Israel Santos, Regional Coordinator of the PROTEJEM Consortium, funded by the EUTF and implemented by Save the Children and Terre des Hommes Lausanne in Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, and Senegal.

However, these initiatives need to be supported by the continued commitment of all relevant actors, such as government authorities, civil society, donors, and other development partners, to promote safe and orderly migration. Sustained investment in this area is equally important to prevent children’s exposure to violence, abuse, ill-treatment, and exploitation along migration routes while ensuring their access to basic services.

For more information, please contact:

IOM: Claire LAROCHE, Protection Officer, claroche@iom.int and Abdoulaye SOUKOUNA, Media Relations, asoukouna@iom.int

Save the Children: Israel SANTOS, PROTEJEM Regional Coordinator israel.santos@savethechildren.org

Terre des Hommes Lausanne: Jara CAMPELO PRIETO, Migration Manager for Africa, jara.campelo@tdh.ch