One in every eight migrants worldwide is a child. Children migrate for multiple reasons: to flee persecution, war and violence, to reunite with family members abroad or to seek better economic and educational opportunities. At all stages of the migration process, migrant children are disproportionately vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation, trafficking and detention. This vulnerability is moreover intensified for unaccompanied or separated migrant children. We address these children’s needs with strengthened care and specific solutions; and by working with government, civil society, private and voluntary sectors to raise awareness and influence policy and legislation.
Children and youth are at the heart of IOM’s global mandate on migration. Throughout all of IOM’s work, safeguarding and protecting children and gender equality are paramount. IOM’s actions are guided by international law in this field, in particular the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In the United Kingdom, we advocate to promote child-sensitive migration policies and programming, and recognise that child migration is a key area of focus, cutting across all our eight strategic areas for engagement.
How we support Migrant Children in the UK
Since 1992, IOM UK’s work with children has developed and diversified to incorporate:
Programmes which directly support children and their families. These include the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS); the development and delivery of child-focussed pre-departure cultural orientation and migrant children pre-departure and post-arrival health. Our programming also focuses on resettling unaccompanied and separated children from France, Greece and Italy as well as resettlement, integration and community cohesion activities that ensure a child-focussed approach is maintained and due consideration is given to children’s needs when migrating alone, or within family and community contexts.
Capacity Building, which focuses on up-skilling professionals and carers working with migrant children and unaccompanied and separated children. This is achieved through the Fostering Across Borders Project; and through bespoke training development and delivery for children and family services professionals, foster carers, supported lodgings providers and supported housing staff on looking after unaccompanied and separated children. Unaccompanied and Asylum Seeking Children information sessions for local authorities in the UK also equip them with the knowledge needed to best support refugee and asylum-seeking children. Furthermore we are in developing an online Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) platform for professionals involved in the care of unaccompanied and separated migrant children in the West Midlands region of the UK.
Over the past twelve years, IOM UK has also increased its work in the area of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, in recognition of the heightened risks of exploitation for children during their journey and on arrival at their destination. The Child Trafficking Protection Fund project in the London Borough of Croydon supports foster carers of Vietnamese and Albanian child victims of trafficking and modern slavery.