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

Meaningful participation and providing child friendly information

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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