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York academic pleads for child refugees

Photo credit: www.savethechildren.org
Photo credit: www.savethechildren.org
Photo credit: www.savethechildren.org

Dr Simon Parker, the Director of the University of York’s School of Social and Political Sciences, has added his voice to the UNICEF campaign, Innocenti’s Research Watch, for world leaders to work together to take action to help child refugees.

Subtitled Children on the Move, Research Watch is an online environment in which influential policy makers and researchers can come together to share statistics and ideas and ask questions about the issues of child displacement and migration. A particularly important topic of discussion is UNICEF’s new global migration report, Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Migrant and Refugee Children. The organisation is being promoted particularly intensively internationally, in preparation for a major UNGA Summit on Large Scale Movements of Refugees and Migrants on the 19th September and also President Obama’s upcoming Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on the 20th September.

Dr Parker spoke passionately about the urgency of this campaign:

“Since the tragic death of Alan Kurdi last year, more than 5,700 people have died trying to escape from the violence of war, persecution and poverty around the world. According to UNICEF, of the 50 million people subject to forcible displacement, 28 million are children. These children are especially vulnerable to death or injury along the route and are frequently subject to physical and psychological trauma.

“Our research confirms that by denying children safe and legal routes to escape conflict zones, European states are contributing to the loss of more lives at sea and trapping children in unsafe and harmful environments. As world leaders begin to gather for the UN General Assembly Summit for Refugees and Migrants and President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York on 19 and 20 September, it is incumbent on world leaders to put the rights and safety of refugee and migrant children at the heart of their policy agenda.

“When children are forced to make perilous journeys to escape danger we need governments to join forces with civil society organisations to ensure their safety and well-being. The UN Summit offers an important opportunity to remind the world that no-one chooses to be a refugee and that those least able to protect themselves – especially children travelling alone – deserve our love, care and protection.”

Dr Parker is one of four academics to speak out in support of the work of UNICEF’s Innocenti’s Research Watch. He has previously been the lead investigator for the Precarious Trajectories research project, which mapped the perilous conditions which met those seeking to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

The University of York’s School of Social and Political Sciences is an interdisciplinary facility for collaboration between four social science research and teaching departments: Politics, Social Policy and Social Work, Philosophy and Sociology.