European Union leaders must respect the asylum claims of migrant children attempting to reach Europe and not outsource these obligations to other countries, Terre des Hommes and the Destination Unknown campaign said today (27 June) ahead of a European Council meeting on migration.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels tomorrow (28 June), with leaked conclusions suggesting they will agree to set up ‘regional disembarkation platforms’ outside the European Union to process the asylum claims of those trying to reach Europe – including children. Terre des Hommes is alarmed these proposals could lead to mass human and child rights violations like those in detention centres in Libya, and push children back to places where their rights could be infringed.

Delphine Moralis, Secretary General of Terre des Hommes, said:
“Conflict and poverty are driving people to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. Deliberately blocking children and other migrants from seeking asylum and increased opportunities in Europe is a dereliction of EU leaders’ international duty.”

“It’s time EU leaders handled migration in a way which mirrors the humanity, solidarity and shared responsibility that Europe holds dear. This means creating safe, legal routes for children and other people to reach Europe – not stockpiling them offshore and ignoring their needs.”

Blocking migrants from reaching Europe will not provide the increased security that European leaders claim. Placing the burden to house and care for migrants on non-EU countries will only add extra strain on politically unstable states such as Libya, whose own government today urged the United Nations to block oil exports from the country after continued fighting between rival militia.

Caroline Horne, Head of the Destination Unknown campaign, said:
“With fighting between rival factions in Libya continuing, the idea that housing children and other migrants there will improve European security is a myth. European leaders need to get real and realise these measures could increase instability across the region, leaving any migrant children stranded there to an uncertain fate.”

Protecting the lives and dignity of migrants stranded in the Mediterranean must be the top priority of EU states. Political disputes on who is responsible for migrants cannot be solved by leaving vulnerable people adrift at sea, and respecting human rights and maritime law must be put before political considerations – ensuring the lives and wellbeing and migrants come first.

EU leaders must also urgently reform the Common European Asylum System, including the Dublin regulation, so that responsibility is shared by all EU countries to provide security and care for people in need of international protection.

For international and EU enquiries, please contact Paul Creeney on +32 (0) 465 946 509 or by email at

For media enquiries on the Maltese context, please contact Dominik Kalweit from Destination Unknown campaign member Kopin on (+356) 2756 7460, (+356) 9940 0407 or

Notes to Editors
• The European Council SumUit will take place on 28-29 June in Brussels.
• The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) sets the minimum standards by which all EU Member States must treat asylum seekers and their applications. The Dublin Regulation is included in the CEAS and establishes which EU state is responsible for an asylum seeker’s application.
• Terre des Hommes works to protect children’s rights and support equitable development across the globe. In 2017, we helped over 10 million people in 67 countries. Terre des Hommes works with refugee and migrant children arriving in Italy and Greece, providing them with psychosocial support and accommodation.
• Destination Unknown is a global campaign network of over 100 organisations uniting to work towards better protection for all children on the move. Our member organisations work to protect children while on the move, build sustainable solutions to their problems – including integration into countries of destination – and reduce the pressure for children and their families to migrate from their countries of origin.
• Destination Unknown campaigns for better protection for children on the move in line with the 9 Recommended Principles for Children on the Move and Other Children Affected by Migration. These principles are intended to influence policy makers and other stakeholders responsible for implementing measures that affect the rights and needs of these children in order to improve the quality of protection afforded to all of them.

Pic: A young migrant in Sicily