"Children on the move are children first"

ENOC Position Statement on Children on the move, September 2013

"Children on the move" covers all children who migrate from their country of origin to and within the territory of a European country in search of survival, security, improved standards of living, education, economic opportunities, protection from exploitation and abuse, family reunification, or a combination of these factors. They may travel with their family, or independently, or with non-family members. They may be seeking asylum, victims of trafficking, or undocumented migrants. The status of children on the move may differ at various stages on their journey and they may encounter many differing situations of vulnerability.

Despite the increasing efforts of national, European and international authorities to address adequately the situation of children on the move, the ground reality shows that their basic needs are very often not met and their rights, as children first, hardly ever respected.

In this context, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) have repeatedly and tirelessly stated in numerous statements that: children on the move are children first. These children, independently of their or their families’ immigration status, are entitled to maximum protection, safety and care while European countries fail to respond to their basic needs. We strongly stress the need for full compliance of existing laws, policies and practices across Europe with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and its optional protocols, as well as with other relevant international instruments and standards.

You will find on this page all relevant materials produced by ENOC regarding the situation of children on the move.

ENOC Position Statements

ENYA project

ENYA 2013 "Children on the move: children first" Project

Since 2010, ENOC has involved children and young people from different countries and regions within the ENOC membership in its annual work, to seek their views on issues that matter to them. The ENYA Forums have been an opportunity for children and young people to share their country/regional work and findings and establish common recommendations on the annual theme.
In 2013, the ENOC working theme was "Chilren on the move". This theme presented barriers to children travelling for the purposes of a meeting because of their previous experiences, immigration or refugee status and vulnrability in the country of residence.

Therefore, ENOC decided to produce a film (a 52 minutes documentary) gathering different experiences of children across Europe affected in some way by the phenomena of ‘children on the move’. The edited version of the film was broadcasted for a 1st time at the European Parliament on the occasion of the 17th ENOC Annual Conference in September 2013. This event also marked the official public release of the film.



ENOC events

ENOC Regional meeting on “Safeguarding and protecting the rights of children on the move: The challenge of social inclusion” - 13-14 November 2017

The Greek Deputy Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, in collaboration with ENOC and UNICEF and with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission, held on 13-14 November 2017 in Athens, Greece a regional meeting of Ombudspersons for Children from across Europe on "Safeguarding and protecting the rights of children on the move: The challenge of social inclusion" .

Under the leadership of the Greek Deputy Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, a questionnaire was circulated across the ENOC membership in September 2017 aiming to inform the meeting’s discussions and assist in the preparation of a set of relevant Recommendations. From September to November 2017, 19 ENOC member institutions extensively contributed to the questionnaire.

The Athens meeting was attended by representatives of 23 European Independent Institutions for Children’s Rights, 21 of which are ENOC members, as well as institutions from Germany and Austria. Ombudspersons for Children actively participated in the full day event elaborating the Recommendations, with the advice of Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children, Mr. Gehad Madi, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF experts. The outcome of the event -the Recommendations- were publicly introduced by the Dutch Ombudsperson for Children in an open event that took place on 14 November 2017 in Athens, Greece. The open event was attended by all the participants of the regional meeting, representatives of UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, Greek ministries, public bodies and non-governmental organisations.

  • Background Report made with the contributions of 19 ENOC members
  • ENOC’s Recommendations "Safeguarding and protecting the rights of children on the move: the challenge of social inclusion" - 13 November 2017, Athens

Joint meeting on “Children, Europe, Emergency. The protection and future of migrant children: a challenge for Europe!” - 28 June 2016

The Office of the French Defender of Rights, together with ENOC and the Council of Europe, held a one day special meeting dedicated to the current situation of migrant children in Europe on 28 June 2016 in the premises of “Maison de l’UNESCO” in Paris, France. It gathered delegates from the Council of Europe (and CoE monitoring bodies), UNHCR, UNICEF, FRA, European Commission, Red Cross, NGOs and a large number of Ombudspersons and Commissioners for Children from across Europe.

Given the urgency of the situation of thousands of children affected by the ongoing migration and refugee crisis in Europe, this meeting aimed at drawing a clear picture of the situation of migration in Europe and at providing a forum for participating stakeholders to share good practices related to the reception and protection of migrant children.

The first round table discussions focused on conditions of immediate protection of migrant children with regards to human trafficking and risks of detention. The second round table discussions addressed the issue of how to make more efficient existing legal migration procedures (humanitarian visas, family reunification, etc.).

On this occasion, Ombudspersons and Commissioners for Children adopted the Paris Statement (available in English and French) and confirmed their firm intention to put forward concrete actions aiming at guaranteeing the security of migrant children and the respect of their rights. This statement established a series of recommendations calling on States and the European Union to guarantee the effective protection of migrant children.

You can find the Conference programme here.


In the context of this meeting, a documentary "Article 6: children on the move, children first" was realised with the support of ENOC, the French Defender of Rights and the General Delegate for the rights of the child of the French community in Belgium. The aim of this video is to convey the voices of young people on the move stuck in Calais. This video, explicitly referring to Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, gives space to testimonies of young migrants met in Calais, France in May 2016. It reflects not only the dramatic situation of children on the move in France, but also all around the world.

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