Reform for Child Refugees


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All children have the right to feel safe and supported, yet across Europe thousands of boys and girls cannot access education, don’t know whether they will be left hungry this week, and are at risk of exploitation. Global conflict has led to the highest numbers of international migration since World War II, and children are increasingly over-represented in this group with children representing over half the 22.5 million global refugees in 2017.

In 2015 the Irish government committed to resettling 4,000 migrants, prioritising unaccompanied minors. Whether these children are currently in Ireland or are in another country in Europe, they need support and assistance to ensure they have an opportunity to meet their potential. In Ireland there are over 1,300 children living in direct provision, with living conditions and access to services varying across the country. 

As a very vulnerable group who have faced challenging situations, refugee children need a spotlight to be placed on their experiences and lives to ensure the State will address the needs currently faced by thousands of children seeking asylum.

Our goals for refugee children

  • We will work for better reception and accommodation conditions for children, young people and their families so that their rights are met and their development is supported.
  • We will work to see that Government services for refugees are based on an understanding of their needs and rights of children and are organised and delivered in a family-friendly way.
  • We aim to ensure that Government and public support for child refugees is increased both in Ireland and internationally.
  • We will seek an increase in welfare payments to children in the protection process in line with McMahon Report, which made recommendations for reform of the Direct Provision system, so that all children can have the opportunity to play, explore and learn more equally.
  • We will continue calls for the adoption of child friendly justice principles in the International Protection System for vulnerable children seeking support.

Progress updates

  • #ReportCard17: Right to Equality, 4.2: Refugee and Asylum Seeking Children
  • Read our response to the report highlighting children’s experiences in Direct Provision
  • In June we welcomed an incremental increase to children’s Direct Provision payment
  • We marked the second anniversary of the McMahon Report, which made recommendations for reform of the Direct Provision system, with a conference which noted that asylum seekers ‘cannot wait’ for further action to improve the standards of living in reception centres.


Published date: 
Tuesday, March 21, 2017