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This content is taken from the University of Strathclyde & CELCIS's online course, Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds We have been travelling for days now. I hope we’re going the right way. The man doesn’t tell me anything. I just keep following. I hope we find the port soon.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds [FOOTSTEPS]

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds Get down.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds [METAL CLANKING]

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds Okay. [METAL CLANKING]

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Go, go.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds Go! [RADIO CHATTER] Run!

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds [DOOR OPENS] [FOOTSTEPS]

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds Name. I don’t have all day. Aden. You are 18? Sorry, what, sir? You are 18?

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds Where is your visa?

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds I don’t know. He doesn’t know. They took me to an office and questioned me. But I couldn’t understand any of the questions. I don’t think I gave the right answers. I just kept saying, I was under 18. But they never listened. I don’t know how long I’m going to wait here. [DOOR OPENS]

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds [CHATTER] It was another jacket. I’ll give you another jacket, but not this jacket. [WHISTLES] Get you– Hello, my friend. Ho, ho, ho. You want to join us over here? Playing a game? No minors. No minors at all. That’s a nice pack you have. You have a gift you want to give me. Oh, oh, oh. You want to give me a gift, boy. There’s a woman here who’s supposed to help me. I don’t think she will. She doesn’t even listen. Over 18? No, I’m actually– [PHONE RINGS]

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 seconds Yeah. Oh. [EXASPERATED SIGH] No, but I–

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds The men, they tried to take everything from me. Not my problem. And they want to hurt me.

Skip to 3 minutes and 17 seconds You look fine to me. I want credits. I need to call my parents. Why don’t we send you back to them instead? One less problem for me to worry about.

Skip to 3 minutes and 34 seconds I have been travelling for months. I am further away than when I started.

Watch Aden's Journey: Episode Two

In this episode of Aden’s Journey, we see Aden after he has already been travelling for a long time. Aden has been passed from smuggler to smuggler and has now reached Eastern Europe.

Once you have watched this episode of Aden’s Journey, let’s consider the risks unaccompanied and separated children face when in the hands of smugglers.

A UNICEF report on the risks children on the move face illustrates how unaccompanied and separated children are extremely vulnerable to being smuggled. Smugglers offer ways to get children across borders illegally, send them across heavily guarded borders, and move them through difficult terrain such as across deserts, mountains, rivers and sea. Smuggling is a billion dollar business that contributes to an illegal economy.

Some smugglers act alone and may just work in their own local area. Others may operate through large criminal networks that span many countries. Smugglers can charge large amounts of money which can leave children and families in serious debt. Smugglers also imprison unaccompanied children and then contact their families demanding they pay to secure the child’s release. Paying huge sums of money can have a devastating impact on the family if they have to sell land and belongings. It can also put them into serious debt and at further risk of exploitation. Migrant smuggler’s fees very tremendously, depending on the country of origin and the route to Europe. For example, a family of five going from Afghanistan to Europe might pay € 11,000, while a family of eight from Syria might pay as much as € 58,000.

Smugglers also resort to violence and abuse – or trafficking – to ensure payment. The UNICEF report tells us how trafficking victims experience a range of violations including sexual exploitation and forced labour. Whilst smuggling and trafficking are not the same, there can be connections.

Please now answer the following questions and share any other thoughts you might have in the ‘Comments’ section below:

  • If you have worked with, or encountered, children who have been smuggled, please can you tell us if this affected them, and how?
  • Are there services in your country to support children who have been smuggled, and if so, please could you tell us about them?

Please be very careful not to identify any of the children you might be writing about. While you are thinking about these questions, please also reflect on the situation in your country and share your thoughts and ideas in the discussion below. If you can, please mention the country you are writing about, but please be mindful of confidentiality and the right to privacy of other people.

You are encouraged to read other participants’ comments. Remember, you can “like” comments if you agree with what’s been said or if you have found something particularly interesting, or you can “reply” to comments to initiate a conversation.

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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This video is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde