COVID-19: Migrant children behind bars face added threats during the pandemic

“Thousands of migrant children are kept behind bars all over the world, alone or with their families, particularly in the context of administrative detention. During the global COVID-19 pandemic these children, already exposed to a great deal of hardship and danger, face worse threats to their health and safety, with the added risks of contamination and further human rights violations,” said Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir (Iceland, UEL), PACE rapporteur on stopping violence against and exploitation of migrant children.

“The 1900 unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children on the Greek islands are particularly vulnerable and in urgent critical need of safe accommodation and adequate protection,” she added.

“I support UNICEF’s call for the immediate transfer of all vulnerable refugees, including children, to appropriate accommodation facilities on the mainland as soon as possible and in line with all public health measures and guidelines,” said the rapporteur.

“I also call on all European governments, as well as those of non-European states, to respect the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to release all migrant children from detention, in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children. Safe accommodation must be provided immediately to unaccompanied migrant children, ensuring their protection against COVID-19 infection,” she concluded.