Live from the Vatican: The rights of child migrants

VATICAN CITY — To mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child — an international convention signed by the Vatican in 1990 — Caritas Internationalis and Vatican Radio’s English program will live-stream a discussion on the rights of child migrants.

A Syrian girl in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp. (CNS/Dale Gavlak)

A Syrian girl in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp. (CNS/Dale Gavlak)

The program will air here Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. Central European Time, 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The participants in the discussion will be: Nigel Baker, the British ambassador to the Holy See; U.S. Sister Norma Pimental, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas; Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, head of the Caritas Internationalis delegation to U.N. agencies in Geneva; and Jem Stevens, European coordinator for the International Detention Coalition.

A press release from Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organizations for national Catholic charities around the world, said the topic was chosen because the phenomenon of “children migrating alone is widespread.”

“It’s a growing concern for Caritas because they are particularly vulnerable to abuse,” said Martina Liebsch, head of advocacy at Caritas Internationalis. “Twenty-five years since the Convention of the Rights of the Child, governments must do more to ensure its provisions are fully implemented. Child migrants must be protected and their dignity respected.”

“A child’s best interests must come first, migrant or not,” she said.

This year an unprecedented number of child migrants -– many of them unaccompanied –- arrived in the United States, many fleeing violence in Central America. But the challenge is not only in the United States, European and Middle Eastern countries have seen an increasing number of children arriving because of the unstable political situation in North Africa, Syria and Iraq.

 

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