A refugee is an individual fleeing his home country as a result of war, violence or persecution. According to reports by UNICEF, children refugees are unaccompanied, having separated from their parents at the time of conflict. The number of children applying for asylum has increased over the past few years amidst rising cases of psychiatric disorders. Some of these do not find safe haven in their new homes due to unfavorable immigration policies. This paper discusses these facts in detail and maintains that children refugees deserve protection.
The current state
The United Nations Higher Commission for refugees reported in 2017 that the number of child refugees under the organization’s protection has doubled to 8 million up from half that figure in 2005 (Eide and Hjern, 2013). More than 50% of these children are unaccompanied and without a parent or a guardian with them on the journey to their unknown new homes. An increase in the number of those seeking asylum has also been reported. Child Refugees in some countries like Ethiopia and Pakistan experience neglect and lack basic needs due to this resource adequacy.
There are cases where some children are turned back to their home countries and others detained in police cells with pathetic living conditions. Some, who get lost and those, whose application for asylum has been turned down, or those not favored by immigration policies end up in the wrong hands, often being trafficked or experiencing slave-like child labor (Glendenning, 2015). Due to these traumatizing experiences, children refugees are more vulnerable to mental disorders which may negatively impact their education, confidence, values and various aspects of their lives.
Children refugee rights
First, children refugees have the right to proper education. The trauma these children face is more than enough to push their confidence levels below average. However, training can improve children’s confidence especially because they have academic goals that they have to achieve daily. Alipui and Gerke (2018) asserted that the refugee resettlement process needs adequate education in place so that the children have the chance to learn the native language and master the rhythm of day to day lives in their new environments.
Secondly, children have the right to proper parental care. The nature of care received by children when they are resettling greatly determines what they will turn out to be in the future. (Taylor, Debelle and Modi, 2016). Good parental care directly impacts child development and reduces their vulnerability to psychiatric disorders experienced due to the harsh occurrences they undergo.
Thirdly, they have the right to compassion. Many governments are passing immigration policies into law without thinking about the welfare of children (Taylor, Debelle and Modi, 2016). Immigrant children are not responsible for what made them flee their countries. They are merely on the run for their lives. Policies should not be as harsh as to condemn rather than help the children.
Finally, children deserve the right to safety and medical care. They ought to live in safe environments which supports their safety and gives them an opportunity to unleash their potential (The Lancet, 2016). In the case of children immigrants, palliative care can help in treating their pain and prevent life-threatening diseases or conditions. More research needs to be done on the treatment of orphan diseases to improve the positive outcomes of treatment.
In conclusion, numbers indicate a worrying trend in the state of children refugees. It is expected that these children are protected against further harm, but this has not been the case as most of them are still denied fundamental rights such as that of proper healthcare, compassion, and education. If the children are adequately protected, a positive future can be guaranteed.
Alipui, N., & Gerke, N. (2018). The Refugee Crisis and the Rights of Children: Perspectives on Community‐Based Resettlement Programs. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2018(159), 91-98.
Eide, K., & Hjern, A. (2013). Unaccompanied refugee children–vulnerability and agency. Acta paediatrica, 102(7), 666-668.
Glendenning, P. (2015). Asylum seekers, refugees and human dignity. Social Alternatives, 34(1), 27.
Taylor, S., Debelle, G., & Modi, N. (2016). Child refugees: the right to compassion. The Birmingham Medical journal (i6100). Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UK.
The, Lancet. (2016). Migrant and refugee children need our actions now. Lancet (London, England), 388(10050), 1130.