A migran child stands among destroyed homes in Autaya, Eastern al-Ghouta, Syria. Credit: EPA/Mohammed Badra
A migran child stands among destroyed homes in Autaya, Eastern al-Ghouta, Syria. Credit: EPA/Mohammed Badra

The UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, Eurostat and OECD have issued a call for more reliable data on migrant, refugee and internally displaced children. The current gaps in data "are endangering the lives and wellbeing of millions of children on the move."

The 'A Call to Action: Protecting children on the move starts with better data' report was issued by UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, Eurostat and OECD to show how crucial data is to understanding the patterns of global migration and developing policies to support vulnerable groups like children. The organizations cited as an example that, in 2016, ''over 12 million children around the world were living as refugees or asylum seekers, while an estimated 23 million children were living in internal displacement – 16 million as a result of conflict and 7 million due to natural disasters. Yet the true number of children driven from their homes remains unknown and is apt to be significantly higher than the estimate because of gaps in reporting and data.''

 Data essential for understanding migration

 The Call to Action confirms, according to the UN agencies, ''alarming holes in the availability, reliability, timeliness and accessibility of data and evidence that are essential for understanding how migration and forcible displacement affect children and their families.'' The call underscores that there ''is recorded information on age for just 56 per cent of the refugee population under UNHCR's mandate; only 20 per cent of countries or territories with data on conflict-related internally displaced persons (IDP) break it down by age; nearly a quarter of countries and territories do not have age disaggregated data on migrants, including 43 per cent of countries and territories in Africa; and lack of information on migrant and displaced children deprives the affected children of protection and services they need.'' Moreover, in many countries, national data do not include information on the gender and origin of refugees and migrants and do not note whether they are travelling alone or with their families. Many children lose their lives on dangerous informal routes - drowning at sea or getting lost in the desert - but their deaths are often not reported or counted.

 Call for Action against data gaps 

UNICEF, UNHCR, the IOM, Eurostat and the OECD ''urge Member States to address the data and evidence gaps pertaining to children on the move, and include the following child-specific considerations in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees''. ''We need reliable and better data on child migrants to protect them and guarantee their best interests. Data disaggregation by age, sex and origin can inform policymakers of the real needs of child migrants. This will ensure that no child is left behind and that they are not exploited. All migrant children are entitled to care and protection regardless of their migratory status,'' said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. 

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