Thailand

IOM, UNICEF launch migrant child rights package

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IOM has launched a package of educational materials designed to raise awareness of migrant children's rights in Thai schools and among youth workers.

The "Child Rights Package," which is part of a UNICEF-funded project: Promoting the Livelihoods of Migrant Children and Their Families in Tsunami-Affected Provinces, consists of a comic book, a DVD animation, a card game, a children's edition of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and a poster.

It aims to raise awareness of children's rights - focusing on migrant children and their families - to reduce stigma and discrimination towards them in Thai host communities.

While Thailand is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the rights of migrant children are in theory protected under the law, in practice they remain vulnerable, according to IOM Thailand Chief of Mission, Monique Filsnoel.

"Migrant children who do not have Thai nationality, or who are stateless and live in remote areas, are still often excluded from the Thai educational system and at least 50% do not receive the basic education to which they are entitled," she says.

According to the Thai Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, the reasons include language barriers, ignorance of Thailand's inclusive education policy and discrimination among host populations. Other factors include the indirect costs of sending a child to school, stigmatization of migrant families and the fear of being arrested and deported.

Migrant children born in Thailand can also suffer as a result of their unclear citizenship status, despite new legislation passed in 2008 to ensure that every child born in the country is issued with either a Thai or a non-Thai birth certificate.

The Child Rights Package will raise awareness of the fact that without such documentation, migrant children can become stateless, entering a legal vacuum which leaves them potentially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and a cycle of poverty, according to project manager Vipunjit Ketunuti.

IOM plans to distribute the Child Rights Package through provincial government partners including Education Service Area Offices, Social Development Offices and the Marine Police. It will also work with NGO partners including the Foundation for Education Development (FED), World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), says Ketunuti.

For more information please contact Chris Lom at IOM Bangkok. Tel. +66.819275215. Email: clom@iom.int.

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