A child moving away from home alone to find work or to escape conflict is not a new phenomenon. But the number of lone child migrants and the complex threats they face are increasing. Caritas is worried on their behalf. They are in great danger, in many cases facing intense psychological pressure to succeed and to provide for their families back home.
Child migrants must navigate an unfamiliar country, language, and culture by themselves. Often they do now know their rights or the true extent of the risk of abduction and abuse which they face. They can be exploited, underpaid and underfed and rarely have a chance to go to school or to play. Organized criminal gangs can menace their lives, and those of their families back home.
Caritas organisations work to make sure these children can get help. They offer safe places to stay, with medical assistance and learning opportunities. They try to reunite children with their families.
Caritas also advocates and campaigns on behalf of child migrants – calling on governments not to detain them as illegal aliens in prison-like conditions intended for the adults they are not. Caritas insists they are treated as children under the law.