10 December 2018 - Geneva

Historic global pact on migration must be adopted to protect vulnerable children

With millions of migrant children on the move worldwide—many of whom have fled crippling poverty, violence, human rights abuses and disasters only to risk exploitation, abuse, trafficking, detention, deportation or even death—Save the Children is urging world leaders meeting at a UN conference in Marrakech today to seize this historic opportunity and adopt the Global Compact on Migration.

More than 1,200 child migrant deaths have been recorded between 2014 and 2018, but the real figure is likely to be much higher.*

Many migrant children, especially when travelling on their own, have faced unimaginable journeys. They’re also particularly vulnerable to falling through the cracks of official care systems, leading to abuse and neglect, and often don’t have access to basic services like healthcare and school. For example, this year almost 12,000 children were registered as being on their own in Spain alone, which saw the highest number of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe in 2018.** 

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International said:

“This is a global challenge, and the only way to solve it is by countries working together and sharing responsibility. This Global Compact is the first of its kind and does just that. It recognises that all children—regardless of where they come from or where they’re going, have the right to be protected, have access to basic services and not be separated from their families. If member states step up and transform these principles into action, it will improve the lives of millions of vulnerable migrant children.”

This compact—which includes 38 paragraphs referring to children and is the first document of its kind to improve global cooperation on migration—gives states a clear set of measures to work together to ensure vulnerable migrant children are protected, whether along their journey, or at their final destination. It also helps mitigate against the reasons that force children to leave their home countries in the first place, supports their proper identification, and ensures a proper referral system to ensure they have access to the services they need.  


Multimedia content of unaccompanied minors in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, North Africa is available here

Spokespeople are available at the Marrakech conference. To arrange an interview, please contact:

Davina Hagan davina.hagan@savethechildren.org +44 7732 601762

Out-of-hours:  media@savethechildren.org.uk +44 7831 650409



* More than 1,200 child migrant deaths have been recorded between 2014 and 2018, but the real figure is likely to be much higher according to the UN Migration Agency.

** Between January and mid-September 2018, Spain received the highest number of migrants and refugees in Europe - almost 35,000 - the majority of whom arrived by sea and more than 5,300 by land to Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in North Africa. Please see more information here. As of 30th September 2018, there were 11,174 unaccompanied minors living in Spain, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

*** At least one third of the estimated 10 million stateless people around the world are children. Please see UNICEF Children On The Move data brief

**** Save the Children is a co-chair of The Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts, a partnership bringing together 30 UN, philanthropic and aid organisations to ensure that children’s rights are at the heart of the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.


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