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UNICEF: Statement on the situation of refugee and migrant children in Hungary

2015-09-18

NEW YORK, September 18, 2015—UNICEF is in touch with the Government of Hungary's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York to discuss how refugee and migrant children can be adequately protected in line with the country’s commitments to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention requires governments to take every necessary measure to protect all children and to provide the special support required by children who are refugees or who are seeking asylum.

UNICEF has also offered assistance to the Government of Hungary to strengthen the protection of refugee and migrant children, following Wednesday's violent clashes on the Hungary-Serbia border and in light of reports that new legislation introduced in Hungary could result in children arriving in the country being detained, prosecuted and separated from their parents.  

Such assistance from UNICEF could include:

  • Help with psychological support for children, through mobile teams and child-friendly spaces at reception centres and other areas where families are gathering.
  • Support for identification of unaccompanied and separated children and tracing of families.
  • Technical support and guidance to strengthen systems that can determine the best interests of children who are moving through the country.

UNICEF urges the Government of Hungary always to put the best interests of refugee and migrant children first in all decisions that affect them. Children should not be criminalized for being a refugee or a migrant, nor should they be separated from their families. These children have already experienced enormous suffering on their journeys, and now need to be treated with dignity, and provided with all necessary care, protection and compassion.

No-one should put children at risk of harm. The scenes witnessed on Wednesday, with children caught in the middle of violence and unrest, should never be repeated.

UNICEF also urges all European Member States to move quickly to provide all refugee and migrant children the protection and care to which they are entitled. No single country can shoulder this responsibility alone.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.