Italy: UNESCO Chief supports UNICEF's agenda on protecting refugee, migrant children

Taormina, Italy (PANA) - On the eve of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has expressed her support to the six-point agenda put forward by UNICEF in its new report: 'A Child is a Child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation'.

The report documents a five-fold increase since 2010 in the number of refugee and migrant children and youth travelling alone. They are vulnerable to abuse, trafficking and exploitation, with girls suffering heightened exposure to gender-based violence and unwanted pregnancy.

Declaring that this daily horror must stop, Bokova said: "This requires collective leadership, in the spirit of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (2016) that explicitly considers the special needs of refugee and migrant children.

"The six-point agenda includes a call to help uprooted children to stay in school and to combat xenophobia and discrimination."

She said UNESCO defends education as a right, a development driver and a security imperative, adding: "Whether it is in host communities or in G7 countries, our response must be to provide education that protects, heals, nurtures and fosters integration.

"Education brings a sense of safety and hope. It is the key to fighting exclusion and prejudice. It empowers youth with new skills to chart their future."

On June 27, UNESCO will award the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize to Giuseppina Nicolini, the Mayor of Lampedusa, and to the French non-governmental organization, SOS Méditerrannée, in recognition of their boundless humanity and unwavering commitment.

According to Bokova: "It is this solidarity that we need at the highest level and across society to give refugees and migrant children the opportunity to live again in dignity, to heal from trauma, to enjoy their fundamental rights and set on the path to a better future."

Leaving a generation to despair endangers and divides all our societies, she said, adding: "This agenda calls upon our humanity and our ethical responsibility to act together now, because a child is a child, and education cannot wait.”

The G7 summit, the 43rd in the series, will be held on 26–27 May 2017.
-0- PANA VAO/AR 23May2017

23 may 2017 18:35:03

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