You can make a difference: help us to protect children at risk! You can make a difference: help us to protect children at risk! What is VEGA Children? Border Guards from airports in the European Union are facing a big challenge when it comes to identifying and protecting children who are victims of human trafficking and smuggling. Airport Border Guards truly need your assistance and support, whatever your role is (passenger, airline staff or airport staff, etc…), to witness and report all kinds of behaviours which may reveal that something is wrong with a child (or the people accompanying the child). Child protection is our concern as human beings… It is our duty as border guards: WE NEED YOUR HELP! VEGA Children Handbook An initiative by the European Union Agency Frontex to collect and establish good practices to identify and protect children on the move and at risk at airports The European Union Agency Frontex has launched an initiative at airports, called “VEGA Children”, aiming to collect existing good practices at the European level in order to protect children who are crossing borders in the European Union. Child protection is our concern as human beings… It is our duty as border guards: WE NEED YOUR HELP! VEGA Children Handbook An initiative by the European Union Agency Frontex to collect and establish good practices to identify and protect children on the move and at risk at airports When is a child at risk? What is the role of Border Guards? What can you do to help? The UN Child Rights Convention describes a child as any person below the age of 18 years. There are different stages at which Border Guards can intervene: ▪▪ At the control booths, border guards should notice if there is anything unusual and should pay attention to unusual behaviour. ▪▪ Further control should be carried out by a different officer (if available), who is experienced and well informed on child protection issues including smuggling and human trafficking and its possible signs/ manifestations. The child and the person accompanying the child shall receive written information on the purpose of (and the procedure for) such a check. ▪▪ Transit areas and gate checks: in busy transit areas, travel documents can easily be swapped or changed. Children that may have arrived accompanied can easily be left alone. Airport border guards need your assistance and support, whatever your role is (passenger, airline staff or airport staff, etc…), to observe and report all kinds of behaviours or indications which may reveal that a child is in distress. There are children on the move who can be accompanied by an adult who is not their caregiver by law or by custom, or even unaccompanied (i.e. on their own) when travelling and crossing borders. When they lack adequate care and protection, or their rights as children are in jeopardy, they are defined as children “at risk”. They may be victims of human trafficking or smuggling and they need protection. BORDER CHECKS ARE A CRUCIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR BORDER GUARDS TO PREVENT CROSS BORDER CRIME AND TO IDENTIFY AND REFER VICTIMS TO APPROPRIATE PROTECTION SERVICES In every decision, border guards must ensure that the best interests of the child is the primary consideration: a general rule at borders is that children should not be separated from their parents (or from the caregivers accompanying them), unless there is a reasonable suspicion that the child is at risk or that the person(s) accompanying the child is/are not actually the child’s parents or caregivers by law or by custom. Child protection agencies will be better placed to confirm any relationship and any risks and protection needs in full and take over the case. In order to support border guards, please provide information which you think may be relevant in relation to a specific child or children: ▪▪ Observe: always keep an eye on children when crossing borders ▪▪ Assess: evaluate the situation (does anything seem wrong?) ▪▪ Report: contact the local police officer/ border guard or airport information staff WE ALL HAVE ONE PRIORITY: TO PROTECT CHILDREN! At every stage of the journey, border guards need assistance and relevant information about situations involving children who may be at risk in order to be able to assess the situation and to react accordingly. Your role is essential as you might see or notice important details or behaviours which could be useful for border guards. If you happen to notice something unusual, please report this straight away to the relevant authorities: this information can be a “NOW OR NEVER” matter and can CHANGE a child’s destiny for the better.
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