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Full and meaningful participation and the importance of providing child friendly information

Meaningful participation and providing child friendly information
They are doing their job and we are doing likewise. Those of us who have been here for some time we need to help the newcomers. It will take them some time to adjust like you guys already did. Our discussion topics are divided into six committees. The committees handle education, health, security, children’s welfare, food, sanitation and cleanliness of our surrounding.
We have a child parliament. This child parliament is representative of the children. Usually children who are living in community care, in kinship and foster care. From every community care there is one representative from one house. And from the kinship care, also, there is a representative from each house. And they are called the child parliament. And this child parliament has a health commissioner - who are divided into six committees– the education, the life-skills committee, the health committee, the SGBV committee, and other committees. Those committees work in different sectors. Children need to go to education, so the education committee will follow up on what children are being challenging on in going to school, where they are dropping out.
And they create an awareness. And the health committee, also, assesses what health problems the child has and does some recommendations on that. And the SGBV mainly works on the severe things that could happen to the child. And if there are, they report to their concerned body, and then they try to create an awareness to the children. And they even have an arts and sport committee, who mobilises the children by displaying dramas, organising tournaments, and other activities. So this is how the child parliament works. And the child parliament has its own meetings, and they note all their discussions, and they would submit any comments they have to their concerned body.
If they have a comment to NRC, they will submit it to NRC. And if they have comments to any other organisations here in this camp, they provide it so that the children will receive better service. And this is also important for the children to participate, to develop their capacity to communicate, and to develop better thinking opportunities. So this is how the child parliament works. First of all, the children have the right to make a decision on the things that affect their life. Plus, when you see this area, they are refugees. So in order to help them, we need to know their problems. So we need to see what exactly they have.
If we let them participate, it will help us to see and sort out all their needs. And plus, to that, we may come up with a solution which is not applicable for the children. So if we let them participate, the solutions will come from them. And plus, we may be different with our age or with our sex and also with our cultural background, so this may affect our programming, on our activities that we deliver. So to make our programming effective, to provide a better solution, we need to let them participate so that we will see the age difference, we would recognise the different needs of different sexes. And the cultural background also matters.
So this is the reason why children need to participate, especially in this sector, because they are victims. They have a lot of protection concerns, so we may not know them if we are not placed in their shoes. So we need to ask them, and then let them participate. And their attitude matters. Our first discussion will be around the issue of education. Please raise your hands to raise any concerns for education here.
Well, of course, we have access to education here and we have teachers teaching us. However, I think it would be in our best interest if we are offered the opportunity to get resettled to a third country so that we can get a better quality education Which can be helpful to us individually and to our country in the long run. There are young children here who are not receiving education currently and I think a measure should be taken to appeal to them so that they can attend school. There are people who have personal issues undermining their participation in education.
They might be still attending school, however, they are not receptive because they are dealing with personal problems that deter them from making most education. They come to school but they are not learning. I think special attention should be given to address scenarios like this. For example, resettling people to a third country could help alleviate this issue and students could be motivated by looking at that.
There are issues on health card registration, for example if I do not have a card he will fill one and bring it back in two hours time. If I have a previous card with my medical details that will not be there, it gets lost. All this creates delays and people have to wait a long time.
The other issue I want to raise is concerning the health clinics and how children, underage and adults are accommodated. Both children and adults are seen together. Children are not given priority. Children cannot wait for too long. My suggestion is a separate clinic should be created to handle children only. So that children can be promptly seen by a doctor.

In this video, we see and hear Eritrean children participating in a Children’s Parliament taking place in a refugee camp in the district of Shire in Northern Ethiopia. Participation in the Parliament provides children with the opportunity to raise issues that are important to them. These include topics related to health, education, protection, and nutrition. As we hear from Adiam Tekle, a Child Protection Assistant for UNHCR, these issues are then passed on to the different organisations responsible for providing camp services, including the team working for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

What children and young people on the move say about receiving information

Children and young people who had experienced migration and reached various countries in Europe attended a meeting in Berlin in 2017 to discuss ‘children in migration’. They spoke about the lack of information they received during their journey – information that would have helped them participate in better decision-making about where and how they travelled, as well as the support they might have received.

They reported how, during their journey, they had only received information from smugglers. At times they did not know where they were, who the authorities were, whom they could trust, where to find help, or how to access their rights to education, accommodation, or health care. They said this led to feelings of stress, isolation and abandonment.

Based on the recommendations of these children and young people, guidance was issued by the Council of Europe recommending that:

  • Age appropriate information leaflets – in a child’s own language when possible – should be used in addition to information communicated orally by professionals, since leaflets on their own are not always adequate
  • Information should be given promptly and on an on-going basis, as situations and processes change for children – for example as they move from a care setting that was provided as an immediate response in an emergency shelter to a more suitable setting such as foster care. The child should be informed of what is happening to them, where they are moving to, why they are going through a given process, and what to expect
  • Information should be provided by professionals who are specialised in the protection of migrant and refugee children with the help of interpreters who speak their mother-tongue
  • Accurate peer-to-peer information provided through social media can be used to communicate with children who have arrived in a country
  • Children should be informed about the different roles of the relevant authorities

You will find more information about child friendly materials in the ‘See Also’ section at the bottom of the page.

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