6 November 2015

UNHCR has raised concerns over credible testimonies relating to the sexual abuse of refugee and migrant children, on the move, in Europe. Similarly, the Chief of Staff of Europol has warned of traffickers exploiting vulnerable refugees travelling across Europe, forcing them into prostitution and slave labour.

Both Melissa Fleming, UNHCR spokesperson, and Brian Donald of Europol, noted that these groups were at a heightened risk of being targeted for violence and abuse, including sexual violence, emphasising the particular vulnerability of unaccompanied children. UNHCR has received reports of people resorting to ‘survival sex’ in order to pay smugglers to continue on their journeys through Europe. Refugee and migrant children in Europe were also at risk in crowded reception sites and other locations where refugees and migrants gather, such as train stations. The UNHCR has called on national authorities in Europe to take measures to ensure the protection of women and girls, including by providing adequate and safe reception facilities, tailored to the needs of single women and families with children.

ECRE has also called on European countries to ensure adequate reception conditions and for the EU to open safe and legal channels for people who seek refuge in the EU, so as to avoid forcing people to undertake dangerous, life-threatening journeys in hope of finding safety.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.