Date: 26-05-2014

Civil society organisations call for children’s rights to be prioritized in EU asylum and migration policies

  • ISSA has joined the open letter sent to the European Council and signed by tens of NGO’s, children’s ombudspersons of Europe and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • Every child should have its rights secured in the European Union, especially those who live in vulnerable situations like asylum seekers or unaccompanied migrant children.

Despite the European legal framework that obliges all EU member countries to guarantee rights to all children under their jurisdiction, several bodies like the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human rights have reported systematic violations of migrant children’s rights, including the right to life. ISSA firmly believes that there has to be an end to discrimination: every child deserves the same rights! In order to raise a common voice for the rights of migrant children to be prioritized in the EU Home Affairs agenda, a number of NGOs and European organizations, including ISSA, have addressed an open letter to the European Council asking the Head of States to “uphold the right of EVERY child in the context of migration in accordance with the UN convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), the Treaty on the European Union, EU Charter on Fundamental Rights (The Charter) and other relevant EU legislation”. This means respecting the best interests of the child regardless of their parent’s migration or residence status, whether they are documented or undocumented, accompanied or unaccompanied, trafficked or left behind. First and foremost, every child should be treated as a child, holder of their rights, under all circumstances. Several European States have already implemented measures at national level to protect migrant children. This represents an important step and the perfect foundations on which a more coherent and integrated approach at European level could be built in the coming future. Areas like education, health, justice and child protection are all affected by this lack of action. We hope our call will help to raise the attention in the coming meeting of the European Head of States so that an improvement in the migrant and asylum policies with regard to children becomes a reality soon. The open letter has been sent by PICUM, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, on behalf of the signing organizations. The complete version of the letter can be downloaded here. ISSA is a vibrant network that connects professionals and non-profit organizations working in the field of early childhood development. Established in the Netherlands in 1999, ISSA’s community today stretches across the globe with its more than 50 members primarily located in Europe and Central Asia. Building upon the Step by Step Program initiated by the Open Society Foundations in 1994, ISSA aims to ensure equal access to quality care and education for all young children from 0 to 10 years old. This mission is implemented through three main pillars of action: equal access for all children; promoting high-quality and professionalism in early years services and empowering parents and communities to be part of the children’s development and learning. For more information about the PICUM's initiative, please contact Alejandra Mahiques at