Children’s lives are disrupted and seriously affected when forced to leave their homes, whilst on the move, internally displaced or once they have reached the host country. These circumstances make children particularly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, including trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and to the risk of going missing.
On the occasion of the International Migrants Day (18 December), as a response to the high risk children affected by migration face, the Council of Europe is launching a Handbook on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in crisis and emergency situations.
“There is a heightened risk of children going missing when they are on the move, including from the reception facilities, responsible for protecting them. This Handbook highlights different challenges, including this one and how to address them”, said Leyla Kayacik, the Council of Europe Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees.
The Handbook builds on the findings of the Committee on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Committee), in particular its urgent monitoring round on protecting children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and includes examples of concrete measures that may be set up or improved in member states. It also includes the description of promising practices that have been identified in several relevant areas at national level, such as, available helpline and other support services for children, coordination across agencies responsible for migration and child protection, data collection and the phenomenon of missing children.
The Handbook contributes to the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025) and the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022 to 2027), and is available in Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Ukrainian.