For child refugees making their way across Europe, the risks they face are unacceptable, according to a report on the safety of child refugees by the Taskforce on Children on the Move.
Among these risks are illness, trafficking, exploitation, sexual abuse and even death, and the report states that European countries are seriously failing to protect these vulnerable children.
During the presentation of the report yesterday in Amsterdam, Marc Dullaert, the chairman of the Network of European Ombudspersons for Children,said: “The rights of refugee children are merely a footnote in the European Union-agenda on migration, whereas they should be at the core of it.”
The numbers of child refugees going to Europe has increased dramatically over hte last six months. In June 2015, 16 percent of all migrants crossing the Mediterranean were children, but by December, this number had more than doubled to 35 percent.
According to the report, the journey across the Mediterranean is very dangerous for children, and one third of all migrants who die during the crossing are children. For the ones who survive, they face a difficult and traumatising journey ahead.
The situation in the transit centres along the Western Balkan route is often deplorable. With less than half of the centres being adequate for winter, children often have to sleep in unheated tents or sheds at temperatures below zero and with inadequate sanitary facilities.
Some children face sexual abuse and violence in the transit centres. At the chaotic border controls, children run the risk of being separated from their parents, and unaccompanied children are vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation or extortion by smugglers.
They also risk being placed in detention, in some cases for several months.
As Dullaert said: “All these European countries that refugees pass through have signed the European Convention of the Rights of the Child. They cannot turn a blind eye to this situation.”
- Pray for the many thousands of refugees continuing to try to cross into Europe each week. Pray that they will be kept safe on the crossings, and find help and hope through Christians and Churches on their route.
- Pray for protection for the many thousands of refugee children trying to enter Europe, many of them unaccompanied.
- Pray for the Christian organisations and churches seeking to reach out and help the refugees in Europe. Pray for resources to help in practical ways, and for many refugees to encounter Christ in real and life changing ways.
- Pray for the European governments to seek to protect the refugee children, and for homes that will welcome them in with the love of Jesus.
Deuteronomy 10 vs 17 – 18: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome … who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing.”