[International] Why can’t child migrants speak for themselves?

21 Feb 2019

Rania Ali, a Syrian refugee now living in Austria, took part in ‘Lost in Migration’, a conference held this month in Malta. Ali contributed to a discussion on why children in migration cannot speak for themselves. She warned that numerous assumptions about migrant and refugee children, as well as migrants in general, are often made by Europeans based on prejudice and stereotypes, and that ‘these assumptions cultivate myths about this age group and misrepresent them’. Additionally, some politicians are using the situation to create an atmosphere of fear and intolerance.

As part of the panel discussion on the increasing risks and dangers for young migrants, the Vice-President of Defence for Children in Tunisia, Lazhar Jouili, explained that the lack of common EU policy on child migration is a big problem. ‘I don’t think we solve a problem by raising awareness of these children. They already know the dangers on the journey, but decide to take the risk’, Jouili explained, underlining the necessity for a joint, coordinated approach from EU member states.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, the President of Malta, also participated in the panel discussion. She emphasized that human rights apply to everyone and cannot be applied selectively.

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