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Migrant and refugee children in Belgium take the floor

UNICEF BelgIque/België
07 May 2018
Today, many young people who have fled their country have taken refuge here. Who are they? What do they have to say about what drove them from home? How were they received in Belgium?


As part of the "What Do You Think" project, UNICEF Belgium gave the floor to 170 migrant and refugee children between the ages of 6 and 20 from 36 countries, living in Belgium. They shared their life experiences, their stories, the road and its obstacles as well as the violence during their flight. They have done all this so that we might understand them better. These migrant and refugee children are grateful to Belgium for being safe. They are also happy to be able to go to school. However, the hardest part for them is the duration and complexity of the asylum procedure, which they describe as unsuitable for children, as well as life in the big reception centers.

"I can’t concentrate on my studies, it weighs so much on me not knowing what will happen to me after the procedure.  What will happen to my family?" - Boy, 17 years old, Afghanistan.

Following these interviews with children, UNICEF Belgium will make recommendations to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. In parallel, the children also made their recommendations. Among these, there is the one related to the asylum procedure. These young people ask that the procedure would be limited in time and that they could benefit from a better accompaniment by a guardian or lawyer. One of the other recommendations is that of the reception center. Children need to be able to rest and to be listened to while staying in structures, smaller than those already existing.

Let us not forget that these migrant and refugee children are first and foremost children, regardless of their migratory status

Children's rights Migrants