Supporting State institutions: a special procedure for children on the move
The project in brief
One year (2018)
The adequate reception and admission of persons in need of international protection is one of the key elements of the GCR. In the case of children, this measure is critical as the State has to guarantee access to its territory, without exception. UNICEF provides technical assistance to create “The Special Procedure of Attention for Children on the Move”, and follows its implementation since November 2018.
This Procedure has been signed by key Ministries such as the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility. It seeks to asses, in the case of a separated or unaccompanied child, his/her filiation with the person who she/he is traveling with, and if the child is considered to travel in a protection environment. This is achieved through an interview conducted by the MIES and, if necessary, through a Special Protection Measure by the Local Protection Institution.
UNICEF-Ecuador is providing technical support to State Institutions for the development and implementation of this procedure and gives special assistance in the field for legal advice with specialized partners. UNICEF-Ecuador also supports families with several services while the process is being implemented.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The first step is the identification for children’s protection needs at the border. Migration services identify the following cases:
- Accompanied children without, or with deteriorated documents.
- Unaccompanied children
- Separated children
The second step is referral to the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion:
- Implementation of a specialized interview to identify specific protection needs. If the child is traveling in a protection environment, the Ministry recommends that the migration authorities guarantee access to the territory. If they identify special protection needs besides migration registry, the case has to be brought to the attention of the local protection system. The latter is responsible for determining special measures of protection.
At any moment of the process, a refugee case can be identified and referred to the specialized authority.
The Local Protection System is responsible for determining special measures of protection.
UNICEF prepares a training processes for public servants related to the implementation of the procedure, and gives legal assistance to families and public institutions to improve the effectiveness of the process.
- Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion
- Local Governments
- Ministry of interior
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Challenges and how they were overcome
There are two main challenges in implementing the Special Procedure for Children on the Move:
- Local child protection systems do not have the capability or capacity to address all the cases. UNICEF, in coordination with other agencies, is implementing formation processes (UNHCR-IOM) and is giving technical assistance through specialized partners (NRC-HIAS).
MIES is implementing this procedure with another NGO: ADRA. We are giving specialized assistance to improve their capabilities to implement a specialized interview.
- Children and their families have to wait several days before having a solution to their cases. UNICEF is supporting families with cash-transfer support to cover their basic and psycho-social needs while they wait for the outcome.
Children and their families have special needs in order to travel to their final destinations. UNICEF is providing cash transfer for children and families to continue their journey safely.
Results of the Good Practice
The process has helped to:
- Prove the possibility of regular registrations for children and adolescents through regular entries at border points.
- Avoid rejection at the border for children and adolescents.
- Allow children and families on the move to continue their journey safely to their final destination.
- Avoid institutionalization of children by implementing alternative care measures.
- A non-juidicialization of child cases.
- Provide a care-giving network for family identification and reunification.
- Identify risks and offer referrals to specialized services.
- Provide comprehensive care for unaccompanied or separated children and adolescents.
- Improve inter-agency coordination for case management.
- Build capacity and strengthen children´s comprehensive protection system.
José Luis Guerra, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Ecuador
Alexandra Escobar, Social Inclusion Officer, UNICEF Ecuador