With 509 votes to 3 and 47 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution recalling various measures necessary to protect children and young people fleeing violence and facilitate their integration into host country communities.
“Every child has the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse”, say MEPs, calling on EU countries to protect children from the risk of trafficking, illegal adoption and other types of abuse.
They recommend that child protection officers be present at the borders to be able to swiftly and accurately identify vulnerable children, record their identity and nationality as well as their specific needs. Services, such as psychosocial support, maternal health support, protection against gender-based violence, family tracing and support for family reunification should be offered within the national child protection systems along with full access to all basic services and appropriate care.
Unaccompanied and separated children and children in institutional care should have a guardian appointed. Child protection services in the country of their reception should continuously monitor them for their well-being and whereabouts after their arrival in the EU, the resolution states.
Host countries should ensure they have the same access to education and health services as other children in the host countries, insist MEPs. They also advocate for relocation mechanisms that prioritise family reunification and the relocation of vulnerable children, such as for example the solidarity mechanism for medical transfers within the EU of children and young people in need of immediate life-saving treatment and therapy.
MEPs call on EU countries to make the best use of available EU funds to support the socio-economic integration of refugees and protect them from discrimination and social exclusion. If necessary, additional resources should be provided, adds the text.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than four million people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge, mostly in EU neighbouring countries, namely Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Czechia, as well as in the Republic of Moldova. Almost half of those fleeing are minors, according to UNICEF, and in need of enhanced protection, as they run a bigger risk of falling victim to trafficking and exploitation.