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Children and youth face abuse, exploitation on Mediterranean migration routes – UNICEF, IOM

(13 September 2017) Migrant and refugee children and youth trying to reach Europe face appalling levels of human rights abuses, with 77 per cent of those traveling along the Central Mediterranean route reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation, and practices which may amount to human trafficking – UNICEF and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, said today in a new report. (Download at right)Harrowing Journeys shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above: nearly twice as likely on the Eastern Mediterranean route and at a rate 13 per cent higher on the Central Mediterranean route.Aimamo, a 16-year-old unaccompanied child from the Gambia interviewed at a shelter in Italy described being forced into months of grueling manual labor by traffickers upon his arrival in Libya. “If you try to run, they shoot you. If you stop working, they beat you. We were just like slaves. At the end of the day, they just lock you inside.”The report is based on the testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, interviewed by IOM.“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. “EU leaders should put in place lasting solutions that include safe and legal migration pathways, establishing protection corridors and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children.”[Explore our Children on the Move edition of Research Watch where global experts discuss evidence gaps on refugee and migrant children]“For people who leave their countries to escape violence, instability or poverty, the factors pushing them to migrate are severe and they make perilous journeys knowing that they may be forced to pay with their dignity, their wellbeing or even their lives,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM’s Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.“Without the establishment of more regular migration pathways, other measures will be relatively ineffective. We must also re-invigorate a rights-based approach to migration, improving mechanisms to identify and protect the most vulnerable throughout the migration process, regardless of their legal status.”A child sits on a mattress laid on the floor of the women's section of the Al-Nasr detention centre in Zawiya, Libya.UNICEF Innocenti is ramping up research and evidence activities on children in emergency contexts with recent creation of new streams of research on children and migration and humanitarian response. Work will focus on capturing intricate dynamics of children's experiences not captured in other research efforts.The report also shows that, while all children on the move are at high risk, those originating from sub-Saharan Africa are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than those from other parts of the world: 65 per cent compared to 15 per cent along the Eastern Mediterranean route, and 83 per cent compared to 56 per cent along the Central Mediterranean route. Racism is likely a major underlying factor behind this discrepancy.Children and youth traveling alone or over longer periods, along with those possessing lower levels of education, were also found to be highly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of traffickers and criminal groups over the course of their journeys. According to the report, the Central Mediterranean route is particularly dangerous, with most of the migrants and refugees passing through Libya which remains riven with lawlessness, militias and criminality. On average young people pay between $1,000-5,000 for the journey and often arrive in Europe in debt, which exposes them to further risks.The report calls on all concerned parties − countries of origin, transit and destination, the African Union, the European Union, international and national organizations with support from the donor community – to prioritize a series of actions.These include establishing safe and regular pathways for children on the move; strengthening services to protect migrant and refugee children whether in countries of origin, transit or destination; finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move; working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation; and combating xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all migrants and refugees.(The original version of the article appeared on
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Philippines conducting national survey of child internet use

(11 September 2017) UNICEF Philippines, in collaboration with researchers at De La Salle University, is currently undertaking a national survey of child internet use based on the ‘Global Kids Online’ cross-national research toolkit methodology. The research follows a successful pilot study in 2016. A total of 144 field researchers are carrying out data collection across the country. In order to ensure young children's engagement, emphasis was placed on hiring young researchers with whom children would find it easier to establish rapport.In some cases, the fieldwork researchers have to undertake great efforts to reach secluded areas. For ensuring their safety, as well as to have a gender balance, there is a buddy-system in place in which one male and one female interviewer work and travel together. In terms of equipment, each team member received a waterproof bag for the tablet and printed surveys as back-up.[Read the Global Kids Online Research Synthesis, 2016]“We are trying to do fieldwork site visits and monitor the progress of the fieldwork and the work of the survey interviewers,” said Maria Margarita Ardivilla, of UNICEF Philippines. “This is important so that we can get an understanding of the perspective on the ground and help to address issues as they arise.”“This provided a space in which the field researchers and the members of the Research Board can process and talk about concerns from the field which proved to be an enriching experience for everyone involved. As some of the enumerators work under hard circumstances trying to reach hard to access places, seeing core members of the Research Board boosted their morale.” Researchers are taking a phased approach to the study: the preparatory phase (then undertaken with the University of the Philippines and the Philippines National Institutes of Health) included working on the research protocol and obtaining ethical approval; the second phase entailed conducting the pilot study in 2016; and the final third phase now includes conducting a nationally representative study with children aged 9-17 and their parents.Considering the sensitivity of some of the questions, particularly related to child sexual exploitation, all researchers received an extensive 4-day training prior to commencing the fieldwork. Training sessions were organized by the De La Salle University’s Social Research Development Centre where the research team, including UNICEF, Council for the Welfare of Children and Stairway Foundation, discussed and practiced utilization of standardized, accurate, sensitive and safe techniques for implementing the survey. The training programme included: 1) children’s rights and child safeguarding principles and protection protocols; 2) development and personality of children; 3) a participatory approach to reviewing the Global Kids Online toolkit, the tablet use and questionnaire application, including interview techniques; 4) discussion of key issues related to children’s internet use; 5) ethical considerations when conducting research with children; 6) role plays; and 7) a mock survey. UNICEF Philippines also required a Research Advisory Board to be created by the academic institution where members are from critical national agencies such as the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Justice and Information and Communications Technology from government, NGOs, and sectoral representatives from the youth and LGBT organizations.A school girl takes a ‘selfie’ with her smartphone at St. Francis of Assisi School, while other students check their smartphones after classes in the Central Visayas city of Cebu, Philippines. The study aims to cover as many regions as possible, but some ongoing conflicts pose challenges for the team. The declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao initially raised concerns on whether social preparation and the actual survey would be affected, and whether the personal safety of the data collectors could be ensured. Having addressed the challenges, the fieldwork in Mindanao was able to commence but red flags remain in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This is a fragile region with pockets of armed conflicts and the team is currently seeking dispensation from the Ethical Review Board of De La Salle University to allow the inclusion of the ARMM as a site for the study. During the time of writing, it was reported to UNICEF Philippines that the De La Salle University continued the field survey in Mindanao with facilitation where some of the randomly selected area had a 100% response rate. Notably, in Metro Manila, children living in gated communities also proved hard to recruit, despite intensive social preparation.At present, 2,250 child respondents are identified to be surveyed. The quantitative survey will be followed by a qualitative workshop for results validation and to afford children the platform to express in more depth their experiences and thoughts about their opportunities and risks in the digital environment.The Global Kids Online survey in Philippines is made possible through the technical support of UNICEF Innocenti, London School of Economics, and the shared programmatic commitment on child online protection of UNICEF Philippines and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.(The original version of this article was written by Maria Margarita Ardivilla of UNICEF Philippines and published on 17 August 2017 on It has been edited slightly for re-publication here.)
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WHO, UNICEF global estimates for water, sanitation and hygiene for the SDGs

(28 August 2017) Some 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and Sustainable Development Goal Baselines, released last month, presents the first global assessment of “safely managed” drinking water and sanitation services. The overriding conclusion is that too many people still lack access, particularly in rural areas.[During World Water Week: 29 Aug - 1 Sept, UNICEF will be drawing attention to the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies; for more information follow UNICEF coverage here]“Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban centres,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”Billions of people have gained access to basic drinking water and sanitation services since 2000, but these services do not necessarily provide safe water and sanitation. Many homes, healthcare facilities and schools also still lack soap and water for handwashing.  This puts the health of all people – but especially young children – at risk for diseases, such as diarrhoea.As a result, every year, 361,000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhoea. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.“Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the health of every child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow.”Significant inequalities persistIn order to decrease global inequalities, the new SDGs call for ending open defecation and achieving universal access to basic services by 2030. Of the 2.1 billion people who do not have safely managed water, 844 million do not have even a basic drinking water service. This includes 263 million people who have to spend over 30 minutes per trip collecting water from sources outside the home, and 159 million who still drink untreated water from surface water sources, such as streams or lakes. In 90 countries, progress towards basic sanitation is too slow, meaning they will not reach universal coverage by 2030.A girl pumps water from a borehole provided by UNICEF in Borno State, Nigeria.Of the 4.5 billion people who do not have safely managed sanitation, 2.3 billion still do not have basic sanitation services. This includes 600 million people who share a toilet or latrine with other households, and 892 million people – mostly in rural areas – who defecate in the open. Due to population growth, open defecation is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.Good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. For the first time, the SDGs are monitoring the percentage of people who have facilities to wash their hands at home with soap and water.  According to the new report, access to water and soap for handwashing varies immensely in the 70 countries with available data, from 15 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa to 76 per cent in western Asia and northern Africa.Additional key findings from the report include:Many countries lack data on the quality of water and sanitation services. The report includes estimates for 96 countries on safely managed drinking water and 84 countries on safely managed sanitation.In countries experiencing conflict or unrest, children are 4 times less likely to use basic water services, and 2 times less likely to use basic sanitation services than children in other countries.There are big gaps in service between urban and rural areas. Two out of three people with safely managed drinking water and three out of five people with safely managed sanitation services live in urban areas. Of the 161 million people using untreated surface water (from lakes, rivers or irrigation channels), 150 million live in rural areas.(This article originally appeared on on 12 July 2017) 
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Uncovering drivers of violence against children in Swaziland

(3 August 2017) A comprehensive qualitative study exploring the drivers of violence affecting children in Swaziland aims to shed light on why violence against children is happening and to make recommendations on what can be done to prevent it. The National Study on the Drivers of Violence against Children in Swaziland report, launched 18 May 2017, identifies key drivers linked to increased risk of violence against children1 – including gender inequality and entrenched social norms preventing disclosure of family ‘secrets’ – and lays out policy recommendations focusing on improving legal frameworks and creating safe protective settings for children.The study follows the Research to Policy and Practice Process (R3P) methodology developed by UNICEF Innocenti’s ongoing Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children, and improves upon it with the collection of new qualitative data on contributing factors of violence affecting children.  The study was carried out by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with The University of Swaziland, UNICEF Swaziland and with support from the Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. The report is a follow-up to the ground-breaking 2007 quantitative national study on violence against children in Swaziland.According to national survey data, violent discipline in the home, which includes physical punishment and psychological aggression, affects more than 88 per cent of all children in Swaziland. The study findings also reveal that sexual violence and bullying affects 38 per cent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively. The study found that children experiencing one type of violence were more likely to experience other types of violence. One staggering statistic to emerge from the data revealed that for every girl child known to Social Welfare as having experienced sexual violence, there are an estimated 400 girls who have never received help or assistance for sexual violence. The research study assessed different levels of risk at the individual, interpersonal, and community levels. Individually, risk factors varied little across settings. Age and gender were linked to increased vulnerabilities in girls because of biological changes. Orphans and children with disabilities were found to be more vulnerable to all types of violence. Food insecurity and living with three or more other families during childhood years was found to be associated with increased risk for violence in girls as well.Key risk factors for violence affecting children at the interpersonal level include the presence of domestic violence in the home, the quality of relationships between parents and children, financial stress and family structure, as well as the Swazi family and community normative concept of ‘tibi tendlu’, which translates to ‘family secrets.’ The widely accepted notion of keeping family matters private to protect the family or community over the individual was repeatedly cited as a driver of violence and was also found to be a factor dissuading individuals from intervening when they suspect a child is abused. Lack of reporting violence affecting children was also found to be related to a general lack of confidentiality in communities, where some have even faced retaliation after reporting childhood violence.Swaziland is one of the first countries to link drivers of violence to strategies that are highly likely to be effective at preventing violence. The government has established a Multi-Sectoral Task Team (MTTV) to follow up on recommendations and to work with key stakeholders on prevention.The study identifies five key factors that drive violence across all levels of society:Gender norms and inequality,Economic and social policies that increase poverty and inequality,The HIV/AIDS epidemic,Formal and informal systems that inhibit disclosure, access and follow-up on violence experiences and,Family and community norms around ‘Tibi Tendlu’ or secrets.According to the report, these five drivers had the greatest impact on children’s individual vulnerability, on the quality of relationships in the home, school and community, on the capacity of adults to care for children and on community and institutional responses to violence. Based on findings from the study, key policy recommendations were made corresponding to the seven priority strategies found in WHO’s INSPIRE framework.  Under implementation and enforcement of laws emphasis is placed on aligning national education and child protection Acts and banning corporal punishment in all settings. Under norms and values recommendations focus on fostering national dialogue on violence, addressing harmful gender norms and scaling up positive discipline programmes in schools. Within safe environments efforts should directed toward increasing the number of guidance counselors in schools and strengthening community based child protection structures. In the parenting and caregiver support strategy area emphasis is placed on improving parenting and family strengthening skills and awareness of caring for orphans. Under income and economic strengthening recommendations focus on building entrepreneurial skills, scaling up cash transfers and vocational training. In the response and social services strategy area effort should be directed at strengthening case-management, reporting and referral mechanisms and building up child helplines and one-stop service centres. Finally, in education and life skills recommendations call for wider provision of life skills and increasing capacity of teachers for preventing violence. [For a full summary of the recommendations from the study, click here.]Dr. Deborah Fry, a programme director and senior lecturer on child protection at the University of Edinburgh coordinated the study in Swaziland, in consultation with UNICEF Innocenti.  As principal investigator of the study, Fry believes the findings of the report will help persuade policy makers to move forward in efforts to lower risks of violence in Swaziland. “It’s hard to know where to act and what to prioritize to help prevent violence in the first place, so this model is good at identifying which issues are actual drivers of violence,” she said. “Identifying the root causes helps to develop better programs and policies.”Now that the drivers of violence have been established, Fry is confident about Swaziland’s commitment to do something about it. “What’s special about Swaziland is the huge commitment from all different government ministries, which has been a driver for the success of the study and is very promising for future efforts to be made going forward.”Of the key recommendations made from the study, Fry identified implementation and enforcement of laws as especially important. “I hope that this study will be the tipping point to finally passing the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, which includes the extension of the definition of rape to male victims as well as updating and consolidating the law on sexual offences,” she said. “There is a national violence law, but is hasn’t been enforced. We also hope this evidence will help government commit to using the study findings to help form a national strategy for violence prevention. Download the report summary findings 1. Drivers refer to factors at the institutional and structural levels that create the conditions in which violence is more or less likely to occur. Risk and protective factors reflect the likelihood of violence occurring due to characteristics most often measured at the individual, interpersonal, and community levels.. In Swaziland, key drivers include gender inequality and entrenched social norms interacting with risk and preventive factors at the community level and within households. Identifying these factors helps Swaziland move to targeted evidence-based recommendations for continually improving legal frameworks and creating safe protective settings for children.     
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Adolescent girls in Europe and Canada at a higher risk of multidimensional poverty than boys

by Yekaterina Chzhen
(2017-09-15) A recent paper in Child Indicators Research shows that girls aged 11, 13 and 15 are more likely to suffer from multidimensional poverty than boys in 26 out of 38 high and ...

What is gender socialization and why does it matter?

by Nikola Balvin
(2017-08-18) Even if you are not familiar with the concept of “gender socialization”, it is most likely that you have been influenced by it and in turn passed on your own ...