Eurochild: On the first anniversary of EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, effective implementation is needed more than ever

Joint Statement by Eurochild and 23 other members of the Child Rights Action Group

The EU’s adoption of the Strategy on the Rights of the Child, on 24 March 2021 was celebrated as an indispensable milestone for Europe by “putting children and their best interests at the heart of EU policies, through its internal and external actions.

One year on, significant questions about the effective implementation of the Strategy remain, for example concerning the external dimension of the Strategy, and how the planned actions will effectively target all children. At the same time, the invasion of Ukraine has brought to light the necessity for the EU to take greater action for implementing the Strategy to ensure the protection and adequate care of children fleeing the conflict and those still in Ukraine.

Up to six million children trapped inside Ukraine are in imminent danger as an increasing number of hospitals and schools come under attack. Children are dying, maimed, displaced, separated from their caregivers, and lack access to basic services, assistance and protection. The respect for international humanitarian law must be at the top of the EU’s agenda, ensuring that civilians and civilian objects, especially schools and hospitals, are protected from attack.

Around 6.48 million people including children are estimated to have been internally displaced in Ukraine since Russia’s military offensive. More than 1.5 million children have already fled Ukraine, and that number will increase. As a result, many children are going missing along Ukraine’s borders. Massive displacement and refugee flows and separation from family and caregivers can make children extremely vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, leading to a huge child protection crisis.

Children in this conflict are especially vulnerable, but the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) and Implementing Decision fail to reflect a key dimension of the Strategy on the Rights of the Child: that children and their best interest should be at the heart of EU policies. Non-Ukrainians, including children, living in the country risk not to be covered by this Directive, notably if they are undocumented or stateless or cannot prove that they were living in Ukraine prior to the war.

Full article.