UNICEF statement regarding the summit of EU and Turkey

08.03.2016 14:32



GENEVA, 8 March, 2016 - With regard to the outcome of the EU Summit with Turkey, UNICEF reiterates that in the implementation of such decisions the fundamental humanitarian principle of ‘do no harm’ must guide authorities across Europe, the Balkans and Turkey at every step when it comes to the care of refugee and migrant children. 

While the details of exactly how this new plan will be carried out remain unclear, UNICEF reminds states of their following responsibilities and obligations:

- First and foremost children’s rights to claim international protection should be guaranteed.

- Children should not to be returned if they face risks including detention, forced recruitment, trafficking or exploitation

- To allow safe and legal channels for children escaping war and conflict through appropriate measures including family reunification, so that children, especially unaccompanied, do not resort to smugglers and traffickers to find safety.

In the immediate term, the current dire situation unfolding on the borders of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, remains unacceptable for children who are now in the majority of those on the Idomeni border in northern Greece.

Children have already endured so much - fleeing war and conflict, and a dangerous crossing.  It is yet another blow that they are now forced to sleep in the open, with no access to basic services, unsure whether they can go forward or be forced back.

Children stranded are at greater risk to smugglers and traffickers and their rights must be prioritized.

UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Greece to find immediate solutions for refugee and migrant children.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For further information, please contact:  
Sarah Crowe, Spokesperson on Refugee and Migrant Crisis, UNICEF Geneva  
Tel: +41 079 543 8029, scrowe@unicef.org


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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. And we never give up.