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Child migrants often experience maltreatment – including suffering from isolation, violence, sub standard working conditions, non-payment of wages, and the threat of being reported to the authorities. Despite the numbers of children involved, the needs and interests of migrant children are largely absent from mainstream debates on child protection, child labour and migration.
As a result, most governments have failed to develop effective policy responses to assist and protect migrant children.
The importance of protecting children is broadly recognised in mainstream public policy.
But in dealing with the protection needs of irregular migrant children and children to irregular migrant parents, governments face the challenge of how to comply with their international and humanitarian obligations at a time when their overall concerns have shifted towards tougher immigration policies and stricter border control to curb unauthorised immigration (UKBA 2010).
This definition adopts biological age as the main, almost exclusive, criterion for the identification of a human being as a child.
However, to ascertain the biological age of an individual is not always an easy task, not least because not everyone has their birth registered when they are born or a document to prove it.Youth account for a large share; about a third of the migrant flow from all developing countries is in the age range of 12 to 24.This includes millions of children under the age of 18 who migrate internally or across national borders, with or without their parents.In the coming years an unprecedented number of young people are expected to follow this massive exodus and shift population dynamics further, driven by demographic factors, economic disparity, violent conflict, state failure, natural disasters, and resource and environmental pressures, especially climate change.Though migration can be a positive experience for children and can provide them with a better life, increased opportunities and an escape from immediate threats such as forced marriage, conflict and natural disaster, child migrants can face serious challenges while migrating.The lively debate on the reliability of age assessment procedures and its frequent use against minors claiming asylum (Crawley 2007, PICUM 2008, Kvittingen 2010) exemplifies the political relevance of this task.The UNCRC definition itself reveals the constructed nature of this categorisation by, first of all, identifying a threshold (i.e.In the case of irregular migrant children, this may be even more complicated because of the policy and practice implications (e.g.duty of care by local authorities) that the recognition as a child may bring to the migrant.Many child migrants end up in agriculture or services such as domestic work.Some of them, but not all, are victims of trafficking.