IOM welcomes adoption of Regional Guidelines for the Protection of Migrant Children
After a participatory process, at the end of 2016 the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), a forum made up of eleven countries in the region, approved the document "Regional Guidelines for the Comprehensive Protection of Boys, Girls and Adolescents in the Context of Migration". It presents the actions that the parties involved with the protection of migrant children have to carry out during the different phases of the migration process, in order to guarantee the integral protection of migrant children and adolescents.
With this effort, this tool seeks a change of vision and approach on migrant children, and articulate actions to protect their rights. The Guidelines invite those who read and use them to always ask first for the particularities of each child in order to provide a more accurate response to their specific needs: Is he underage? What language do he or she speak? Is it a girl or a boy? Is she accompanied? Has he suffered discrimination? It also invites us to bear in mind at all times that children are rights holders, not mere recipients of assistance that can be offered.
Among the actions proposed are: the design and dissemination of information guides on safe migration and the risks associated with irregular migration, protection and assistance resources. It is also proposed to have information hubs in key municipalities with high rates of child migration. It is also urged to monitor the operation of procedures for determining the best interests of the child, to create, provide and activate pre-established reference protocols to competent and appropriate protection institutions. In the case of the consular authorities, it is oriented to install and strengthen videoconference programs, for example, to support communication between migrant children and their families. In terms of integration processes, it is urged to seek solutions based on family or community rather than institutionalization.
The document has been developed with technical support from IOM through the Mesoamerica Program and has been enriched and discussed by technical staff members of governments, civil society organizations and international agencies involved in the region. After this participatory review, the final document was validated by consensus and approved by the Vice Ministers of the Member Countries of the RCM in November 2016.
IOM has welcomed the adoption of this important document, which is also a tangible effort for a regional consultative mechanism to ensure genuine protection for migrant children and adolescents in the region. It shows that countries can respond effectively and collectively to the challenges and new dynamics of migration in an articulated and effective way, but above all, under a single regional vision.
In addition to accompanying the process of elaboration and validation of the Guidelines, the Mesoamerica Program has been working since 2010 on strengthening the capacity of government and civil society to improve the protection and assistance of migrant children and adolescents, as well as to promote regional coordination and the exchange of good practices in this area.
That is why, after having trained 398 officials of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico in 2016 through the Specialized Course on Migrant Children (81 hours), the Mesoamerica Program is expanding the second edition of this course this year to the staff of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. On this occasion, 350 people from the seven countries are expected to exchange knowledge and good practices that contribute to the implementation of the Guidelines and have an impact on the lives and rights of children and adolescents who migrate in the region.