Migrant children represent a significant share of the migrant and refugee population and they migrate for multiple reasons: to flee persecution, war and violence; to reunite with family members abroad, and to seek better economic and educational opportunities. 1 in every 8 migrants worldwide is a child. Children migrate for multiple reasons: to flee persecution, war and violence, to reunite with family members abroad or to seek better economic and educational opportunities.

At all stages of the migration process, migrant children are disproportionately vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation, trafficking and detention. Different factors contribute to migrant children’s vulnerability, including:

  • Pre-existing risk factors at individual, household, community and structural levels;
  • Specific reasons why they have migrated;
  • Specific conditions they face during travel, transit and at destination.

This vulnerability is moreover intensified for unaccompanied or separated migrant children; these children’s needs are addressed with strengthened care and specific solutions.

Children and youth are at the heart of IOM’s global mandate on migration. IOM’s actions are guided by international law in this field, including the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in particular. IOM strives to address children’s unique individual needs which may encompass access to education, health care and psychosocial support as well as family unity and various protection measures to ensure children’s safety.

In the EEA+ Region, IOM advocates promoting child-sensitive migration policies and programming, alternatives to detention of migrant children and facilitating children’s access to protective and assistance services that address their specific needs regardless of their migratory status. IOM also works with partners to encourage responses to migration crises recognizing that children are entitled to specific rights, including protection.

Lack of awareness of the rights of children and migrants, along with limited child-sensitive skills and practices, can contribute to rights violations against migrant children, as well as difficulties in identifying vulnerable children within migration flows. Therefore, IOM works to enhance governmental and non-governmental capacities to prevent, assist and integrate child protection systems for migrant children.

IOM commits to the following principles in its work with migrant children:

  1. Non-discrimination
  2. Best interests of the child
  3. Life and full development
  4. Family unity
  5. Non-refoulement
  6. Evolving capacities
  7. Participation
  8. Confidentiality

Based on these principles and its mandate, IOM implements a broad range of projects and initiatives which directly and indirectly address the needs and interests of children and youth worldwide.

Child Friendly Information Material

Migrant children, may be traumatized by the long, exhausting and dangerous journey, arrive to a country where they do not have any knowledge of national migration and asylum systems. They are not aware of their rights and responsibilities, and their different options

IOM missions in BulgariaCroatiaHungary and Slovenia developed child friendly material in several languages: