Geneva, 10 December 2014 – “Human Rights 365. Every day is Human Rights Day”. This is the message released by the United Nations to celebrate the 64th International Day on “Human Rights. Human Rights 365 days & Child Rights 360° degrees”,  this is how Terre des Hommes expresses its contribution to celebrate the 64th International Day on Human Rights.

“When migrants are left to drift for weeks without access to food and water; when ships deliberately refuse to rescue migrants in distress; when children in search of family reunification are detained indefinitely, denied education and care, or returned to perilous situations – these are grave human rights violations “.

This is one among the strong statement released by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today when addressing the 2014 Dialogue on Protection Challenges organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

“A child who cross the Sea to escape poverty, violence or disaster is the clear sign of a chain of human rights violations that start in the child home country, that continue along dangerous journeys and ends up in so-called host countries. Millions children are and will be on the move around the world. We mobilize and will continue to mobilize to protect their rights, at home and abroad”

said Terre des Hommes’ President Raffaele Salinari to back up UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We do not speak for children migrants, we just amplifies their voices

“Protection at Sea”, a crucial issue on which Terre des Hommes is particularly concerned. “Protection of children at Sea”, a challenge on which Terre des Hommes has developed operational expertise. Mainly in providing direct psycho-social and listening to children who have experiences lack of protection at sea.

The letter written by E., a 17-years-old boy who made the journey from Ghana to Sicily through the Mediterranean sea is an expression of Terre des Hommes engagement in listening to children on the move. This is one of the children’s testimonies that represent our basis and “raw material” to develop policy recommendations such as the ones presented today in Geneva. Terre des Hommes and its Destination Unknown Campaign doesn’t speak for children, we just amplifies their voices.

Civil Society Recommendations for Protection at Sea

At the above mentioned 2014 Dialogue on Protection Challenges organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, a group of Civil Society Organisations have presenting a set of recommendations on Protection of migrants at Sea. Terre des Hommes contributed to the elaboration of the recommendations and endorsed them as co-signatory organisation.

The civil society statement on protection at sea calls for :

  1. A clear needs-first approach to the challenge of protection at sea
  2. Scaling up multi-actor frameworks of protection on a needs-first basis that meaningfully engage civil society competencies and partnership
  3. Establishing a protocol based on a needs-first principle to protect particularly vulnerable migrants and refugees, e.g., women and children
  4. Ensuring fair and competent responsibility-sharing and regional cooperation among coastal and non-coastal States of tasks and costs involved in Search and Rescue, relocation and resettlement procedures
  5. Addressing “route causes” and “root causes” of forced and dangerous migration
  6. Ensuring that border management is firmly based on human rights principles
  7. Empowerment of migrants and refugees


In the European context, following the announcement in August  2014 of the potential replacement of the operation Mare Nostrum with a new Frontex Plus Program (now called Triton Operation), Terre des Hommes called for humanitarian corridors and a greater protection for migrant children

The “civil society recommendations on protection at sea” incorporate the principal emphases from the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Civil Society Days meetings since 2010. In particular item 3 of the GFMD Civil Society’s recommendations to governments that emerged during the last GFMD CSD as well as Civil society’s work at the 2013 UN High Level Dialogue.

These recommendations are a direct follow-up to Civil society’s “5-year 8-point Plan” that includes specific points on protection of migrants in transit, women and children.