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Home arrow Economics arrow Children and Forced Migration: Durable Solutions During Transient Years


The purpose of this chapter was to analyze the challenges refugee children face, especially in PRS, and to distinguish whether a systems approach to child protection holds the potential to improve conditions. It has revealed that children face a wide variety of risks in PRS that can be overcome through a systems approach. Although refugee aid is under the mandate of the UNHCR and provided through humanitarian short-term aid, the tendencies of PRS reveal the distinct need to improve conditions and adjust protection structures; otherwise, refugees and especially children are stuck in limbo for years with inadequate protection. The systems approach targets not only refugee children but also advocates for a comprehensive approach into which national and refugee children are integrated. Considering the long duration of PRS, such a holistic perspective meets rights and needs and can provide sustainable improvements for all children in an asylum country.

Realizing that the systems approach calls for revisions in how refugees and particularly children are protected, providing short-term aid on a long-term basis (in PRS) is revealed as an absurd approach. Key for success is the cooperation and coordination of all actors and stakeholders as well as their political will and commitment, as systems only function if goals are mutually pursued. Refugees and especially children therefore should be integrated into national child protection systems and not treated as aliens. This is increasingly necessary in protracted refugee situations when durable solutions are absent. Even though developing countries may not have the capacities to undertake such procedures, aid agencies are required to support the processes; however, they should not take over a state’s responsibilities entirely.

Nevertheless, as long as refugee protection, including child protection, remains as a detached subsystem—especially in PRS—the rights abuses and protection gaps of all refugees will remain systematically perpetuated. Because all systems about human interaction are developed and maintained by humans, the exclusion of refugees from national systems is entirely a social construct. Within the highly contextualized approach to supporting child protection systems in refugee as well as other contexts, the most important question still is: Are children being protected in a way that is consistent with their rights? If not, then the focus shifts to explaining this and exploring how the existing system can be strengthened so as to fulfill ambitious expectations. This analysis reveals great gaps in academic literature about how to provide an understanding of, and possible alternative approaches to, better protecting and assisting children, especially in refugee contexts where durable solutions cannot be found.

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