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IOM and UNICEF join forces for the protection of migrant children: new tools available

Bangladesh © IOM / Beyond Borders Media 2022
Bangladesh © IOM / Beyond Borders Media 2022

Today IOM and UNICEF launched a new set of tools to assist practitioners to follow a Best Interests Procedure for migrant children, and to facilitate reintegration support for children and their families.

This release, developed in the context of the IOM-UNICEF Strategic Collaboration Framework (2022-2023), shows the organizations’ commitment to speak with one voice and to strengthen stakeholders’ capacities on the protection of migrant children.

ACCESS THE TOOLS

The  tools, developed through the EU-IOM Knowledge Management Hub (KMH) are a complement to the IOM Reintegration Handbook’s module “A Child Rights Approach to the Sustainable Reintegration of Migrant Children and Families”, co-developed by IOM and UNICEF.

In accordance with international frameworks, the premise of this module is that a child rights approach to reintegration begins with a return decision identified to be in the best interests of the child. Therefore, procedures need to be in place to ensure all possible sustainable solutions for children have been explored and that children return to their country of origin only if it has been determined to be in their best interest. These procedures should aim at finding a sustainable solution - be it return and reintegration, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

When children are unaccompanied and separated or if protection risks are identified, the procedure requires complex coordination among many entities, including cross border coordination with relevant child protection actors.

One of the main challenges in these contexts is the lack of standardized guidance or tools outside of humanitarian settings to guide the best interest procedure, including referral and alternative care arrangements.

Recognizing this gap, UNICEF and IOM jointly developed the following tools:
 

  • Registration and Best Interests Assessment (BIA) Form to identify assistance needs of migrant children
  • Family Tracing and Assessment Form to document the family tracing of unaccompanied and separated children, identify any safeguarding issue and consider potential assistance needs.
  • Verification Form to verify the family’s relationship with each relative as well as their capacity and willingness to care for the child
  • Best Interests Determination (BID) Form to be used by the Best Interests Committee to determine the most sustainable solution for a child.
  • Guidance on Minimum standards for temporary child protection care facilities and foster care, in countries of transit/destination during the best interests procedure and/or as alternative care in countries of origin to a framework for the provision of temporary care for children, based on minimum standards, for state or non-state actors in charge of these.

Additionally, if return is found to be in the best interest of the child, a strong reintegration assistance and regular follow-up plan should be developed. For this reason, the reintegration plan template originally designed for adults has been adapted to ensure that the protection needs of children are considered:
 

  • Reintegration plan for Unaccompanied and Separated Children
  • Reintegration plan for families with children

Furthermore, training sessions on the Best Interests Procedure and on Reintegration of Children and their Families has now been added to IOM’s reintegration training curriculum.

For more information please contact Joy Paone, Project Officer (Capacity-Building), IOM, at jpaone@iom.int or Khaled Khaled, Knowledge Management Specialist, UNICEF at kkhaled@unicef.org