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UNHCR convenes dialogue on how to better protect children on the move

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UNHCR convenes dialogue on how to better protect children on the move

7 December 2016 Also available in:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is pleased to announce that the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges will take place this week on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December in Geneva, Switzerland. Established nine years ago, this unique forum allows for a free exchange of views between a broad range of stakeholders on new or emerging global protection issues. This year's focus, Children on the Move, is about the growing but often overlooked plight of children who are fleeing violence and war, and struggling to reach safety.

While children represent one third of the world’s population, more than half of the world’s refugees are children.

Many children on the move end up in detention facilities, which can have a serious negative impact on their physical and mental health and life-long development. They are also vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation and the risk of statelessness. Their futures are uncertain and many have missed out on years of schooling as a result of displacement.

“Regardless of the circumstances and reasons why they are on the move, all children need special protection and support,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “Children on the move are first and foremost children, and should be treated as such. They need love, care and schooling. They should be able to express their views freely and be listened to. Detention centres are no place for a child – immigration detention of children must stop.”

With global forced displacement at a record high of 65.3 million, the number of unaccompanied and separated children seeking refuge is also growing dramatically. Some 112,000 asylum claims by unaccompanied and separated children were lodged worldwide in 2015 – the highest number recorded since UNHCR began collecting such data in 2006.

Against this worrying backdrop, the High Commissioner’s Dialogue will bring together refugee youth representatives, states, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, civil society and other humanitarian and academic partners to consider the distinct protection risks children face while on the move.

To Editors and Reporters:

Details and background information about the Dialogue

The following sessions will be open to accredited Geneva Palais media representatives and live-streamed at

  • 8 December:

10:00 -13:00 Opening plenary session, including

Introductory remarks by High Commissioner Filippo Grandi

Panel discussion moderated by Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk

  • 9 December:

10:15 - 13:00 Closing plenary session, including summing up of the discussion by High Commissioner Filippo Grandi

All are also invited to screen a virtual reality video, which follows the story of Omar, a Syrian boy born with a rare hormone deficiency, in an igloo outside Room XIX. Given the limited space available, you are encouraged to book a time for the screening.

Young refugees from all over the world will be addressing the Dialogue and will also be available for interviews upon request.

Media page with the High Commissioner’s opening speech (available after delivery), videos, photos and media contacts