Europe Fails Migrant Children

Pressure From Human Rights Watch Bringing Change to Canary Islands


Many European countries are failing to care for migrant children who arrive alone from places like West Africa or Afghanistan seeking safety. But potential changes fueled by a Human Rights Watch report may improve the living conditions of migrant children on the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago.
The Canary Islands’ government has housed 250 unaccompanied migrant children in emergency shelters, with no formal occupancy limits or regulatory oversight. Since 2007, Human Rights Watch has investigated the poor conditions of these facilities. After reading our new report, the government told us that it plans to close the largest, and worst, of the centers – La Esperanza.
Children housed in La Esperanza told Human Rights Watch that they were given low-quality food, and that the facility does not have enough heat, hot water, or blankets. They also reported violent behavior among the children. The children, many of whom fled West Africa, will be moved to other emergency centers. Yet so far, the government hasn’t made a commitment to bring those centers up to its own legal standards.
In the rest of Europe, a growing number of countries now plan to deport Afghan children arriving alone to a reception center in Kabul. The British Government claims that deporting children will prevent others from making these hazardous journeys. But instead of discouraging children from fleeing their homeland, it could have the opposite effect.

(Source:Human Rights Watch)