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UNICEF and German Government initiative helps improve protection and care to refugee children in accommodation centres

News and Press Release
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BERLIN, 13 November 2018 – An initiative launched by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, to support refugees in accommodation centres, has made considerable progress towards protecting the rights of vulnerable children.

An estimated half a million refugee children and adolescents have applied for asylum in Germany since 2015. These children and adolescents often stay in accommodation centres for significant periods of time, although the centres do not provide adequate long-term shelter, protection or other basic services.

The “Initiative to protect refugees and migrants in Refugee Accommodation Centres” has helped improve the situation for these children and their families.

At an event in Berlin, German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Franziska Giffey said: “Every child has the right to protection and a fair chance in life – no matter where they are from or the status of their parents. We must ensure that all children are able to grow up safely, so that every child is able to reach their full potential, including refugee children. Within the framework of the initiative we have developed guidelines for the protection of refugees in refugee accommodation centres, which have been implemented in some 100 accommodation centres. I am pleased that these guidelines have become good practice and serve as an example for other accommodation centres.”

Specific results from the initiative include:

  • The development of nationwide standards to protect refugees in accommodation centres.
  • The deployment of professionally trained protection experts to 100 refugee accommodation centres.
  • Reaching 25,000 people directly through the initiative, one-third of whom are children and adolescents.
  • The implementation of standardized procedures to protect refugee children and their families from violence.
  • Training more than 2,250 employees working at refugee centres to strengthen their ability to respond to the specific needs of vulnerable children and families.
  • Establishing child friendly spaces at the centres, so children and young people have safe spaces to learn, play and regain some level of normality.

UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, Afshan Khan, said the initiative has helped to improve the quality of refugee children’s lives and to shield them from violence, abuse and neglect. "The Government of Germany and the German people must be recognized for the generosity and humanity they have shown by providing so many vulnerable refugee children and adolescents with safety, protection and opportunities for a better future," she said. "Germany remains an example of how countries receiving refugees can ensure the best interests of children are protected.”

Despite significant progress, further measures are needed to effectively safeguard children's rights nationwide and to provide opportunities for children to build a successful life.

Georg Graf Waldersee, Chairman of the German Committee for UNICEF, said, "Children should stay as short as possible in refugee accommodation centres, as they are not a place for children even under the best of conditions. It is, therefore, urgent for all existing institutions to set standards that ensure the implementation of children's rights and take into account the needs of children and parents. As long as children live in refugee accommodation centres, they need to be well protected and promoted."

Providing refugee and migrant children and adolescents opportunities to participate in their new communities is a critical investment for all of society that promotes social inclusion.

Note to Editors

The revised version of the "Minimum Standards for the Protection of Refugees in Refugee Accommodation Centres“ can be downloaded here.

Further information at:

Media Contacts

Christine Kahmann
Communication Officer
German Committee for UNICEF
Tel: +49 (0)30 2758079-11
Tel: +49 (0)159 04139723