Happy Children’s Day everyone! Children with disabilities have the right to the same life as all other children. They have the right to go to the same schools and to participate in all activities alongside their peers. **Their voice should also be the first voice to be heard when decisions that concern their lives are taken. **
However, children with disabilities are often excluded from these decisions and are among the most marginalised; they are at a higher risk to live in institutions away from their families, to be victims of violence or sexual abuse, to not be accepted in schools, to not have access to information on their rights or to not be allowed to express their opinion when decisions related to their lives are taken.
Furthermore, during the current migration crisis, Europe has seen in the last one year the coming of more than one million persons fleeing war in other parts of the world. 62% of these refugees are women and children, many of which are exposed to discrimination, abuse and sexual violence. Many children are separated from their families either before leaving their homes or when they are on the move. Often no support or assistance is provided to families of children with disabilities or to unaccompanied minors with disabilities. Often, reception centers are not accessible and **reasonable accommodation is not provided **during the asylum seeking procedures.
On the occasion of the International Children’s Day, we call on the European Union (EU) and its Member States to promote and protect the rights of all children with disabilities in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). These international human rights instruments state that all children with disabilities have the right to be fully included in all aspects of society without discrimination. In particular for children with disabilities and their families on the move, we call on the European and national leaders to ensure that the reception centers are accessible and that reasonable accommodation is provided, and to ensure that all efforts are undertaken for a prompt family reunification for all children, including children with disabilities.
Protecting children from violence and social exclusion
EDF has recently joined UNICEF in a project focusing on ‘Protecting children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in Western Balkans and Turkey’. The aim of the project is to empower civil society to better monitor the realisation of children’s rights, promote inclusive and innovative services, increase public support for the protection of children from violence and social inclusion of children with disabilities in the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244), Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), Serbia and Turkey.
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