Migrant and displaced children move for multiple reasons: to flee persecution, war and violence; to reunite with family members; and to seek better economic and educational opportunities. Migrant and displaced children are highly susceptible to violence, abuse, exploitation, detention, and trafficking. Different factors contribute to their vulnerability, including pre-existing risk factors at individual, household, community, and structural levels; the specific reasons why they have moved; and the specific conditions they face during travel, transit, and at destination. These vulnerabilities are intensified for those children who are unaccompanied or separated.
Migrant and displaced children are children first. They should therefore be treated with dignity and safety regardless of their migration status or why they have left their homes.
IOM’s work with and for migrant and displaced children aims to promote and uphold the rights of children as established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. By doing so, IOM seeks 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.
In addition, IOM works with governments and partners to strengthen child protection systems and ensure that they are inclusive and accessible to displaced and migrant children.
IOM also advocates for inclusion of migrant and displaced children in national child protection services and support the capacity development of national referral systems and governmental and non-governmental child protection service providers.
IOM is committed to ensuring that all its policies and interventions are child-sensitive and child-friendly, and that the best interest of the child is upheld. On a par with mainstreaming the protection of children, IOM’s specialized interventions include best interests of the child procedures or child protection case management, which provide services such as family tracing, verification and reunification, options for alterative care, child friendly activities, access to health, and provision of mental health and psychosocial support.
However, child protection is also a collective responsibility that requires a collective response. IOM engages with other international, national and local actors to complement each other’s services for the protection of children.