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Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children

Prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees

In March 2016, the Secretary General’s paper on “Protecting children affected by the refugee crisis: A shared responsibility” (SG/Inf(2016)9) identified a series of immediate, priority actions for member states and the Council of Europe. They would result in improved safety for these children and enhanced respect for the human rights standards of the Council of Europe, with a special focus on children who are unaccompanied. 

Since his appointment, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees (hereafter the SRSG) has carried out four fact-finding missions in order to assess how the Council of Europe can assist member states to manage the current migratory flows, while respecting their commitments under Council of Europe human rights instruments. The SRSG has also initiated consultations within the Council of Europe on ongoing and future activities on refugee and migrant children with a view to the adoption, in early 2017, of a transversal action plan on refugee and migrant children. Moreover, discussions have taken placewith other international and European organisations that are active in the field of protection of migrants’ and refugees’ rights. 

This thematic report focuses specifically on issues concerning refugee and migrant children, including children within families as well as unaccompanied and separated children. Its aim is to identify key findings from the SRSG’s missions in 2016 and to reflect on how priorities must be addressed, both as a matter of urgency and in the ongoing work of the Council of Europe, in the upcoming action plan.