Topic: The issue of child refugees in Conflict Areas
Delegate Name: Alexandra Kehlibari
The world is witnessing a rapid escalation in the number of people forced to flee from areas where violence, persecution and conflict are uprooting entire populations. They hope for a chance of a better life and the opportunity for asylum. Approximately half of the 19.5 million registered refugees globally are children and youth either travelling with their families or unaccompanied. A recent example is the massive escape of refugees out of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, moving toward countries of transit, such as Greece, Italy, Serbia, Lebanon and Egypt seeking safety and relief in countries like Germany and other open- border nations. However, their journey to liberty is perilous as they are vulnerable to bad weather conditions and healthcare. Once they arrive at their destination they are faced with many other barriers that should be seriously taken into account in an effort to lead them back to normality, to the extend it is possible.
While a lot of emphasis is placed on physical health and rehabilitation, the mental state of children is often overlooked. When such an important issue is neglected, the problem itself intensifies and can have an effect on the rest of the child’s life. They suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the horrors they have witnessed or experienced. Education, no matter the child’s background, is the key to successful future. UNCHR estimates that only 50% of refugee children receive a primary education. Societal exclusion is the scary reality for all the children that find themselves isolated in a new country where possibly they do not know anyone or speak the language. Things get worse for children under 18 who are unaccompanied, without the protection of their parents. Much more has to be done for those children as they risk being trafficked and abused.
There are at least 27 NGOs advocating for lifesaving protection and assistance for displaced people worldwide. On the top of them stand the Geneva Convention and UNCHR that have been protecting the well-being and the rights of refugees all over the world. Although Hungary has signed and ratified the aforementioned Conventions along with their protocols we believe that the first is quite outdated and does not address issues such as internally placed people, environmental refugees and people who are forced to leave their homes because of social and economic conditions and poverty. For several years now, Hungary’s refugee policy has been considered as one of the more draconian in Europe and since the start of Europe’s migrant crisis it has regularly been criticized over its tough immigration policies. The delegation of Hungary believes that this criticism is extremely unfair because there’s an issue we definitely do not agree. We think illegal migration is a security threat to Europe. The security situation has never been that bad in Europe than currently in modern history and the threat of terror has never been that serious as it is currently, and this is a direct consequence of the fact that 1.5 illegal migrants were allowed to come to Europe without any kind of control, regulation or check. We do not permit anyone to question whether Hungary respects European values or not because we have been members of the European Union and we share the European regulations and values.
As far as child refugees are concerned Hungary’s government in cooperation with SOS Children’s village concentrate on supporting families and unaccompanied minors. Our reception centers are child friendly, providing minors with psychological support, intercultural mediation and medical services. We also recruit and train foster parents to become SOS mothers/fathers of unaccompanied children, especially for the most vulnerable ones (under 12, girls etc.)
Our position is that we should take special care of refugee children when they arrive in our countries focusing on their physical and mental health, both in transit and the destination country so as to give children their inalienable right to live their childhood.
In order for children to feel included in their new home, schools and communities should incorporate programmes that foster harmony between children from different backgrounds and help them learn about each other’s cultures. Small steps such as these will prevent societal exclusion and help make the transition to a new life easier.
Despite disagreements and controversy, Hungary is committed to international regulations and believes that we can all work together to fulfill our obligations we have on international level; and first and foremost to protect and promote children’s rights because they are the future of the world.