Ukraine: EU must protect all children fleeing the war
The European Parliament adopted Thursday, with 509 votes to 3, and 47 abstentions. It recalled various measures that were necessary to help children and youth fleeing violence and to facilitate their integration in host country communities.
“Every child has a right to be protected against violence, exploitation, and abuse”, MEPs say, calling for EU countries to safeguard children from trafficking, illegal adoption, and other forms of abuse.
The child protection officers should be present at borders in order to quickly and accurately identify and record the identities and needs of vulnerable children. The national child protection system should offer services such as psychosocial support and maternal health support, protection from gender-based violence, support for family reunion and family tracing.
A guardian should be appointed for unaccompanied or separated children as well as children in institution care. The resolution states that child protection services in the country where they were received should continue to monitor their welfare and whereabouts for any changes after they arrive in the EU.
MEPs insist that children from host countries have equal access to education and health care as their counterparts in other countries. MEPs also support relocation mechanisms that prioritize family reunification as well as the relocation of vulnerable children. This includes the solidarity mechanism within the EU for medical transfers of children and young adults in immediate need of life-saving treatment or therapy.
MEPs urge EU countries to make maximum use of EU funds to support refugees’ socio-economic integration and to protect them against discrimination and social exclusion. The text adds that additional resources may be required if necessary.
More than four million have fled their homes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They are mostly seeking refuge in EU neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and Slovakia. UNICEF estimates that half of those fleeing are minors. They need enhanced protection as they have a greater risk of being exploited and trafficked.