A young African girl with yellow material covering her head and shoulders is standing in a bus looking out of the window. There are silhouettes of other children in the bus sitting nearby.
An unaccompanied girl looks out the window of a bus that is taking her and other Somali refugees to the Kobe refugee camp in the Dollo Ado area of Ethiopia

Children who become separated on the journey

Let us also consider why some children also become separated from their parents or legal/customary caregiver while on their journey.

This occurs, for example:

  • During times of panic as, for example, when running away from armed people, or when lost in large crowds, perhaps when crossing a border
  • While crowds are boarding buses, trains or other means of transport when there are too many people to travel together
  • When the adult accompanying a child goes away for what is supposed to be a short time - for example to look for food - but because of certain circumstances, does not return
  • When the adult accompanying a child is detained by officials, or both adults and children are detained, but in separate places
  • When their parent’s or legal/customary carers get ill on the journey or die
  • In extreme circumstances when children are deliberately separated from their parents by immigration or law enforcement officials

We should also be aware that some children are at risk of harm even when travelling with their parent/s or their legal/customary caregiver/s. This might be because a child is at risk from their parent/s or caregivers. It could be because their parent/s or caregiver/s are not able to protect them from others. The information we are going to examine during this course also applies to these children. This includes making decisions about separating a child from their parent/s or legal/customary caregiver/s if this is the only way to offer them protection from any abuse they may be experiencing.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde