After a long ordeal at sea, UNICEF calls on all parties to make sure children, babies and pregnant women on boats from Italy are fully protected and cared for when they arrive on Sunday
MADRID, June 15, 2018 /CNW/ - With the impending arrival of the Aquarius and two Italian vessels – from the Coast Guard and Navy respectively - with 629 refugees and migrants on board, UNICEF welcomes the decision of the government and local authorities to prioritise the needs of children and young people during the reception and resettlement process.
Authorities on the ground in Valencia are expecting to receive 123 children, including 60 unaccompanied and separated children. The Spanish National Committee for UNICEF is working with the relevant authorities, making specific recommendations to ensure that the reception and protection systems are respectful of the needs and rights of children.
"These 629 people will be arriving to Spain after several days of uncertainty at sea, living in very difficult conditions. They were rescued as they fled from poverty and conflict. They are, and will be exhausted. We are especially worried about the situation of children, babies and pregnant women," said Javier Martos, Executive Director of UNICEF's Spanish National Committee. "Spain has the opportunity to do a child-friendly reception that prioritizes overall the wellbeing of every child that has been travelling on these boats."
On the "Dattilo", captained by the Italian Coast Guard, two staff members of INTERSOS, a UNICEF partner in the refugee and migrant response in Italy are providing much-needed support. Their tasks on board include early identification of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people, providing information and psychosocial support to unaccompanied and separated children, and distribution of emergency items.
In line with recommendations made for all children arriving in Spain, UNICEF stresses the need to protect children that will be arriving in Valencia on Sunday, especially those who are travelling alone as they are the most vulnerable to human trafficking or sexual exploitation.
Some of these recommendations include:
- Separate first reception areas for unaccompanied children, pregnant women and others, with specialised staff to provide support for their specific needs, including psychosocial support and health assistance;
- In addition to protection, unaccompanied and separated children must immediately receive individual legal advice with the support of cultural mediators;
- Keeping families together, unless there are clear risks of human trafficking or other situations of prior violence;
- Ensuring children's access to education and recreational facilities.
As the refugee and migrant crisis evolves, at the global level, UNICEF calls on all governments in the region to collaborate in coming up with longer-term solutions for children on the move.
Note to Editors:
UNICEF has partnered with the Italian Coast Guard since late 2016 and has identified and supported more than 3000 UASC and distributed 1675 emergency kits during 42 missions. There are 60 unaccompanied and separated children on board the three boats, comprising 52 boys and 8 girls - 28 from Eritrea, 14 from Sudan, 6 from Guinea Conakry, 3 from Mali, 2 from Nigeria, 2 from Ghana, 2 from Guinea Bissau and 3 from Senegal, Gambia and Chad, respectively.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.
SOURCE UNICEF Canada
For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Stefanie Carmichael, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8866, [email protected]