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Anchor 1

Core Commitments

for Children

are the core UNICEF policy and framework for humanitarian action


Strategic Result

Children, their families and host communities are protected from violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse and have access to services and durable solutions



  • Interagency and intersectoral coordination mechanisms, including cross-border, are in place and allocate clear roles and responsibilities across sectors, without gaps nor duplications[108]

  • In situations where the Humanitarian Coordination System and Refugee Coordination Mechanism co-exist, response modalities are adapted accordingly[109]

  • UNICEF led sectors are adequately staffed and skilled at national and sub-national levels

  • UNICEF core leadership and coordination accountabilities are delivered[110]

1:  Coordination and leadership


Effective coordination is established with UNICEF’s participation


See 2.1.2 Coordination

  • Best interest procedures are in place,

  • appropriately resourced and monitored

  • All service providers have mechanisms in place to identify vulnerable children and children at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, and refer them to case management processes which include best interest procedures

  • Personnel in direct contact with children are appropriately trained and skilled

  • Child protection authorities/actors are involved in determining the best interest of the child as part of status determination procedures

2: Best interest of the child


The best interest of the child guides all actions concerning children, including status determination procedures and the identification of durable solutions

  • Child-friendly reception, accommodation and care arrangements[111] are available that provide an adequate standard of living, and support families/siblings to stay together

  • Child safeguarding and child protection policies and monitoring systems are integrated in all reception centres and locations hosting children and families

  • Unaccompanied and separated children have access to alternative care options that meet minimum standards[112]

3: Reception, accommodation and care


Children and their families have access to safe and age-, gender- and disability-appropriate reception, accommodation and care

  • Children have timely access to information about their rights, feedback and complaints mechanisms, in a language and format that children of various ages and backgrounds can understand and use

See 2.2.7 Community engagement for behaviour and social change and 2.1.6 AAP

  • Children are enabled and supported to meaningfully participate in all decisions affecting their lives

4: Access to information and meaningful participation


Children have timely access to child-friendly information on their rights, available services, public health information, legal and administrative processes and durable solutions

  • In line with UNICEF’s sectoral commitments, essential services are provided to all children through supporting national planning processes and budgets; strengthening systems for service provision; and, where needed, directly providing services across all sectors

  • Referral pathways and plans to ensure continued access to services during a crisis are established  

5: Access to services


Children have access to essential services[113], without discrimination, regardless of their legal status

Large-scale movements[105] involve mixed flows of people who move for different reasons but may use similar routes. They include refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons[106], asylum seekers, stateless persons, smuggled or trafficked children and their families. Large-scale movements are characterized by a high proportion of children and their families in need of humanitarian assistance.

UNICEF’s work is grounded in international refugee law, and other international and regional laws, frameworks and standards[107] on refugees, statelessness, internal displacement and migration.

This section applies to all children on the move regardless of their legal status, citizenship, nationality or reason for moving. It applies in countries of origin, transit, destination and return.

Key Considerations


  • Advocate for and support universal application of the CRC and its Optional Protocols for all children, regardless of their nationality, citizenship or legal status.

  • Advocate for and support universal application of legal frameworks related to refugee protection, internal displacement, migration and statelessness and of international standards relating to fair trial and the rule of law.

  • Advocate for the end of all forms of detention of refugee, stateless, asylum-seeking and migrant children on the basis of nationality, citizenship or legal status.

  • Advocate for universal birth and death registration within Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems so that all children have a birth certificate, including to prevent statelessness; preparedness and response plans are in place for CRVS; CRVS systems are modernized, and data is backed up, stored off-site and interoperable with health, education and social support systems.

  • Advocate against refoulement, pushbacks, deportations and mass expulsions of migrant and displaced children and families to ensure children and their families are not returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. During public health emergencies, these practices threaten children’s rights and health and are a risk to public health.

  • Advocate for child-specific considerations in all migration and asylum administrative and judicial proceedings, regardless of the children’s legal status.

  • Advocate for equal access to essential services for refugee, stateless and migrant children on par with national children, in line with the CRC.

  • Advocate for removal of legal, administrative, linguistic or financial barriers that prevent refugee, migrant, stateless and internally displaced children from accessing essential services. 

  • Advocate against stigmatizing refugee, migrant, stateless and internally displaced children, fuelling xenophobia, characterizing them as a threat or using criminalizing rhetoric.

  • Advocate for local and national authorities to be supported and resourced to protect and include refugee, migrant, stateless and internally displaced children.

Coordination and Partnerships 

  • Support the coordination model/response plan in place and work with UNHCR, IOM and national authorities to ensure that the needs of children and adolescents are adequately captured in interagency/sector assessments, strategies and programmes.[114]

  • Work with partners to harmonize approaches, avoid gaps and reduce duplications. Ensure complementarities within the cluster system and with other coordination models, including the Refugee Coordination Model and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, and other coordination mechanisms set up to respond to large-scale population movements.

  • Support cross-border coordination and case management between child protection, immigration and foreign affairs and/or interior ministries, including for family tracing and reunification and child-sensitive return and reintegration.

  • Work with partners to connect humanitarian and development coordination mechanisms to ensure quality programming, application of relevant standards and inclusion of migrant or displaced children in local and national systems. 

Quality Programming and Standards

  • Ensure that programmes addressing the needs of refugee, migrant and internally displaced children also include needs assessment and service delivery targeting host communities.

  • Provide community- and family-based care for all children, keeping families and siblings together, wherever possible.

  • Ensure fast and effective family tracing and reunification procedures in accordance with the safety and best interest of the child.

  • Identify, implement and invest in alternative care for unaccompanied and separated children. 

  • Prioritize secure access to durable solutions that are in a child’s best interest such as local integration, regularization, resettlement or return.[115] These should never be compromised due to other considerations, including public health emergencies.

  • Strengthen national data systems to integrate data on refugee, migrant, stateless and internally displaced children, disaggregated by age, gender and disability.

See 1.4.9 Ethical evidence generation and data protection

  • Pay specific attention to urban areas: as economic centers, they provide opportunities for livelihoods and are often concentration points for displaced people and migrants.

  • Ensure the participation of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, especially children, adolescents and women, in the design and implementation of programmes.

  • Using safe and confidential feedback and reporting mechanisms based on affected populations’ preferred methods of communication, systematically use their views to review, inform and correct protection interventions.

  • Ensure that children, adolescents, caregivers and communities participate in decisions that affect their lives and have access to safe and confidential complaints mechanisms.

Linking Humanitarian and Development

  • Engage with national and local actors in preparedness and from the onset of the crisis to strengthen systems and local capacity across sectors to integrate refugee, migrant and internally displaced children and their families, building on existing partnerships with line ministries, local authorities and CSOs.

  • Recognize safe and orderly migration, when it is not forced, as a potential driver for development.

  • Recognize that no programming should explicitly aim to prevent migration. However, address child-specific drivers of forced displacement as part of ongoing development programming and as preparedness measures.

  • In contexts affected by conflict, fragility or major challenges to social cohesion, ensure that responses to large-scale movements are underpinned by a conflict analysis and are conflict sensitive as a minimum requirement.

  • Identify and seize opportunities to reduce potential tensions and to foster social cohesion between migrants/refugees/internally displaced persons and host communities through peacebuilding interventions.


[105] General Assembly Resolution A/RES/71/1, 2016.

[106] All actions concerning refugees are guided by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its protocol. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement outline the protections available to internally displaced people.

[107]  These frameworks include: Global Compact on Refugees; Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration;

Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 - 2024; Guidance Note of the Secretary General: The United Nations and Statelessness.

[108] Ensure complementarities between the cluster system and other coordination models, including the Refugee Coordination Model and the Camp Coordination Camp Management, and when necessary refer to the Joint UNHCR-OCHA note on coordination in mixed situation.

[109] Ibid.

[110] See section 2.1.2 above, overarching commitment on coordination.

[111] Community and family-based care, rather than institutionalization such as shelters, should be prioritised.

[112] UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/64/142), Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.

[113] Including education, healthcare, nutrition, child protection, mental health and psychosocial support, water and sanitation, shelter, civil registration, leisure, legal aid, social protection, independent representation and guardianship for unaccompanied children.

[114] In accordance with MoUs and other strategic cooperation agreements at country, regional and global level, including with UNHCR and IOM.

[115] Refer to UNHCR (2016) Durable Solutions – Preliminary Operational Guide and IOM (2019) Reintegration Handbook – Practical guidance on the design, implementation and monitoring of reintegration assistance.

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