Voice of The African child work in collaboration with agencies and organisations that support the well being of the child refugee in the UK and Europe.
The recent crises of children arriving on boats from African states, some unaccompanied minors, has led VOAC to consult with the AFI Foundation, the United Nations, Save the Children and Plan International to consolidate a way forward for the future upkeep, safety and security of unaccompanied African minors within Europe. VOAC have visited the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais and composed a report to UNICEF and Save The Children for their consideration in improving the living conditions of the refugees and especially children in the camp.
Safety and Security for the children is paramount. The children are terrified being in a new social environment and some have lost parents in the waters en route to Europe. VOAC aim to ensure that the UK and other European states have a robust social services system that prioritizes safety and security for the children from would be predators.
VOAC provide support such as sourcing translators, working with local Children services to identify suitable homes and families for the children, ensuring cultural harmony and positive support and encouragement for the child who has been separated from his/her parents.
The guardian reported in 2014 that
“Thousands of migrant children are disappearing after arriving in mainland Europe, triggering concerns that they are falling prey to a new and thriving market for child trafficking and forced labour. Hundreds of children, mainly from Egypt, Eritrea and Somalia are arriving on Italy’s shores every month. In Catania, on the eastern coast of Sicily, local NGOs say that Eritrean children have begun to be kidnapped from parks and train stations.
While they are sleeping at the train station they are intercepted by networks of traffickers who promise to give them shelter and get them jobs. But then they are locked up in houses and, if the family can’t pay for them to be released, they have to work for them selling drugs, through prostitution or working in the Sicilian agriculture. These are all high-income activities for these networks.”
Children who are registered as unaccompanied minors upon arrival in Italy are also vulnerable to exploitation. Under Italian law, children arriving in the country without their family should automatically come under the care of the state; they should first be housed in emergency shelters, then moved to foster homes and into integration and education programmes. Yet, as authorities in Sicily buckle under the weight of the influx of migrants, children are being left in overcrowded and decaying emergency shelters for months, with little protection.
According to migrant rights activists, many children who escape, or are lured out of emergency shelters or foster homes by the promise of employment, end up working in conditions of forced labour, packing boxes of tomatoes in basements or greenhouses in Sicily.”
For this reason VOAC see this as a mandate to rescue these children before they fall into unfavorable circumstances.
Voice visited the notorious Jungle in Calais pre closure. Advocating for child refugee and unaccompanied minors rights to be united with family. We also highlighted the state of living conditions at Jungle Calais with overwhelming response from the UN and Save the children.