Topic: The issue of child refugees in Conflict Areas
Delegate Name: Zoi Chasioti
In December 2016, UNICEF reported that approximately 535 million children lived in countries affected by conflict or disasters. Nearly 50 million have been violently displaced from their homes leading them to grow up in insecure environments lacking principal things such as food, water, education and healthcare.
The child refugee crisis is the worst since World War II and demands immediate action. Those children are not only deprived from basic goods but are also in a devastating psychological status as they witnessed violence, torture, loss of family members and properties. They are often forced to travel for days under dangerous circumstances and when they reach their destination they face new challenges and the danger of being victims of trafficking, abuse or exploitation.
Thus, it is vital that policy and programme responses to the movement of refugees and migrants include provisions that grant children the continuum of care and access to relevant support services. Only in this way can children continue to flourish amidst migration and be positively integrated in whatever community they live in. These provisions are guaranteed under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which has been almost worldwide ratified. The Convention recognizes the children’s right to be free from the aforementioned situations and according to article 38 of the agreement the State Parties must take all the necessary measures to protect and care of these children. Moreover, NGOs like UNICEF and SOS children’s villages are responding to this crisis by taking action in protecting the refugee children and also aiding the countries which accommodate them.
Romania, as a UN member State has signed in 1991 the Geneva Convention which stipulates two major principles that guide state’s responsibility in terms of minors’ rights: treatment without discrimination and the best interest of the child. Except for the GC Romania has adopted, in 2006, the 122 National Asylum Law which outlines several types of care arrangements for refugee children in Romania, including integration and educational care, residential care, medical care, psychological support and counseling programs, and Act 272, in 2004, which is in accordance to the Geneva Convention for the protection and promotion of the rights of a child. If according to 122 NAL regulations the asylum claim is accepted, the refugees acquire the protection of the Romanian State and share the same rights and obligations as Romanian citizens and Romanian children. Under Article 17 from Law 122, refugee children have the right to free schooling and the right to benefit from the same treatment offered to all Romanian children in front of the law, including the right of practicing their religion.
In 2015, as Romania was preparing for the arrival of the first Syrian refugees, Child Pact, a regional organization brought together 600 NGO from ten countries and in cooperation with the Romanian government allocated sufficient funding to ensure adequate protection of children’s rights throughout the refugee crisis and paid special attention to the living standards of the most vulnerable refugees, the children.
Taking all these important issues into account, Romania firmly believes that all UN member states should jointly focus their interest on the principles of UNCHR which stipulates that all actions concerning refugee children should be governed by the principle of the best interests of the child. That means their physical, psychological, social and developmental needs must be met before any political or other consideration. The objective of our acts should be to enable refugee children to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner. In seeking solutions, account must first be taken of the need to maintain family unit, or where it has been broken, to reunite refugee children with their close family members, after being registered as individuals.
We should also take care of disabled refugee children who need special assistance as far as medical service is concerned. We believe that in this case co-ordination between international organizations, such as UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO with governments and regional NGOs would be proved to be beneficial.
The refugee child crisis is clearly a difficult issue to deal with; however, if governments, NGOs and the refugee community itself work together, they can reach durable solutions which will benefit this vulnerable group of human beings, refugee children.