Swedish civil society gathering discusses rights of children in migration

Eurochild took part in Sweden’s largest gathering of its children’s rights community – the Barnrättsdagarna – last week in Örebro.  Over 1,200 people attended – NGOs, public authorities, researchers, and health, education & social care professionals. The main topic was children in migration. It was impressive to see how the community is coming together to put children’s rights as a top priority in their response to migration inflows to Sweden.  Eurochild delivered a workshop on the role and importance of the EU, in particular with regards migration and asylum policy and legislation.  We were joined by our Finnish members – the Central Union for Child Welfare – and EU expert in the office of the Swedish Children’s Ombudsperon, Karin Fagerholm.

The event followed a high-level meeting of European experts organized by the Swedish Ombudsman for Children, which among other things discussed the recently adopted Communication on protection of the rights of children in migration. Family reunification, legal routes of migration, registration, resettlement, integration, age assessment, protecting the child’s best interest in returns – were among the many challenges discussed. A central theme was how to give primacy to the voice of the child and ensure he or she feels listened to. A key concern was the time children and young people are expected to wait during asylum or regularization procedures, with no certainty about their future.  “Waiting kills all hope” expressed George Moschos, Children’s ombudsman in Greece.

Several ENOC members are active on the issue of child rights in migration. Its dedicated task force published a report in January 2016 on the safety and fundamental rights of children on the move. 

Eurochild collaborates with other NGOs in Brussels to bring a children’s rights perspective into the migration agenda. Our upcoming meeting of national partner networks will focus on how to support national advocacy towards implementation of the recently adopted Communication. We will also be publishing a compendium of inspiring practices later this year.  Last week’s meetings brought to the fore the wealth of good practices that exist, but also the uphill battle of changing the narrative at the highest political level where increasing security and migration control remain the dominant discourse.