WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY 2023: “For Every Child, Every Right”
19 November 2023 (Budapest, Hungary) – One in every eight migrants worldwide is a child.1 Migrant children represent a significant share of the migrant and refugee population and they migrate for multiple reasons: to flee persecution, war and violence; to reunite with family members abroad, and to seek better economic and educational opportunities. At all stages of the migration process, migrant children are disproportionately vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation, trafficking and detention. IOM strives to address children’s unique individual needs which may encompass access to education, health care and psychosocial support as well as family unity and various protection measures to ensure children’s safety.
“IOM Hungary remains committed to prioritizing the well-being and unique needs of migrant children, especially those affected by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Our comprehensive response aims not only to provide immediate aid such as shelter and food but also focuses on fostering a sense of community, ensuring access to education, and delivering crucial mental health and psychosocial support. Children are at the heart of our efforts, and through collaborative programmes and partnerships, we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment where their voices are heard and their rights are upheld.” – Dániel Bagaméri, Head of Office, IOM Hungary
Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to mental health risks such as trauma, depression, shock, suicidal tendencies, labour or sexual exploitation, isolation and social exclusion; children particularly so. Displaced children from Ukraine fleeing to Hungary experience many of these feelings and are in need of somewhere to turn or just someone to talk to. IOM Hungary group Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) therapy sessions provide a nurturing environment where children and parents can share experiences, feelings and challenges. Group sessions are held on topics such as: “Understand Yourself! (Children Aged 9-12)” - The social trainings to develop and strengthen the teenage self; and “Parenting Strategies and Problem Solving!” - a supportive environment where parents can address challenging issues concerning their children and themselves. Individual sessions can also be booked. Free childcare is available onsite to make it easier for parents to attend adult MHPSS sessions.
Accelerated learning programmes have been implemented to mitigate the gaps resulting from prolonged absence from school and the uneven quality of online education with Ukrainian schools. Hungarian and English language lessons are being held at multiple locations by different partners to help children integrate and enter school. In addition, school catch up activities are held at the IOM premises twice a week. Free interpretation in Ukrainian, Russian, English and Hungarian is available to families to facilitate their access to education.
Social inclusion, cultural and community building activities are scheduled almost every day of the month by the NGO Unity and other implementing partners of IOM at the Budapest Helps! Information Point and Community Center, including many for children. The November Budapest Helps! schedule including arts and crafts classes, language lessons, embroidery and art therapy can be accessed here in English and Ukrainian. Summer and autumn children’s camps were organized during the year. The camps facilitated community-building and created a sense of belonging among children while participating in fun activities together, and provided a safe space to socialize with peers from both similar and different backgrounds than their own. The camps covered a wide range of activities, including but not limited to sports and leisure, language classes and other interactive activities. Cultural integration activities are also regularly organized, such as a Halloween party was organized by one of IOM’s implementing partners, the Food Bank Aid Foundation, and a children’s Hungarian folk dance organized by Unity on November 11.
Lack of awareness of the rights of children and migrants, along with limited child-sensitive skills and practices can contribute to rights violations against migrant children, as well as difficulties in identifying vulnerable children within migration flows. In the EEA+ Region, IOM advocates promoting child-sensitive migration policies and programming, alternatives to detention of migrant children and facilitating children’s access to protective and assistance services that address their specific needs regardless of their migratory status. IOM works with partners to encourage responses to migration crises recognizing that children are entitled to specific rights, including protection. Therefore, IOM works to enhance governmental and non-governmental capacities to prevent, assist and integrate child protection systems for migrant children. In order to help address this issue, IOM has just launched a new publication WORKING WITH MIGRANT CHILDREN AT THE BORDERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION…: A toolkit for front-line workers.
IOM Hungary is an active member of the Child Protection Community of Practice (CPAoR, Alliance CPHA). From 2017 to 2020, the Organization has also served as Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC) of the Alliance CPHA.
World Children’s Day, first established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day, is UNICEF’s annual day of action for children, by children. It is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improving children's welfare. November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future. This World Children’s Day, it’s more important than ever that the world listens to their ideas and demands.
For more information
New IOM publication: WORKING WITH MIGRANT CHILDREN AT THE BORDERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION…: A toolkit for front-line workers
IOM Hungary gratefully acknowledges the continued financial support of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF) and the Hungarian Ministry of Interior, US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM); the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Government of Japan; the Government of France; the Government of Sweden; and the German Federal Foreign Office that make its activities possible.
Some of these activities are organized and funded as part of the Enhancing Social Inclusion Opportunities for Displaced People Fleeing Ukraine project (MMIA-2.2.15/17-2023-00003; running between 1 SEPT-31 DEC 2023 with a total funding of HUF 120,440,693) co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (75%) and the Hungarian Ministry of Interior (25%).