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International Migrants’ Day (18 December): ‘This is not what childhood should be’, said Doris Fiala

On the occasion of International Migrants’ Day, marked every year on 18 December, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children declared that the past year was a “very difficult year because of the great human suffering of migrants who left their homes in quest of a safe place. Many of the people who have escaped these horrific situations, conflict and chaos are children".

"This year alone, more than 300 000 children entered the European continent, too many of them alone, without their parents or anyone to take care of them. In their search for security, the road has exposed them to tremendous dangers. Trafficking, physical violence including gender-based and sexual violence, and abuse are just some of the risks that migrant children face. Their misfortunes might not even end once they reach our continent".

"In too many cases, these children are put in detention, because of administrative procedures, because they don’t have the appropriate documents or because they have crossed the border illegally. Thus they fall victim to further suffering – poor hygiene, bad nutrition, closed, small, overcrowded cells with people they have never met and who may mean further danger for them. These children face more violence, more risks and lifelong traumatism. This is not what childhood should be".

"All of our member States have a moral obligation to protect children. Our governments need to have a human-rights based, child-sensitive approach to dealing with migrant minors. They can and should adopt alternatives to shutting them away behind locked doors. Instead of detention children must be accommodated in a community, where their best interests, health and family unity are respected. Now even more than ever we must put all our efforts into stopping the terrible practice of imprisoning migrant children, who have committed no crime and who must not suffer because of their own or their parents’ immigration status".