September 2, 2021
While the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals winding down, the flow of refugees from the Taliban regime has only just begun. In these early days of addressing the immediate needs of those fleeing Afghanistan, KIND urges the U.S. government and national and international organizations to collaborate in implementing a streamlined and coordinated approach to protecting and serving unaccompanied and separated children. While we still do not know how many Afghan children will seek international protection, early reports suggest that children are arriving in many countries, including the United States, some having lost their families forever, others having been separated from their loved ones in the chaos of fleeing their homeland.
Internationally, this urgent moment presents an opportunity to recommit to shared principles of child welfare and protection; and build cooperative and coordinated approaches to better serve millions of children experiencing separation and forced displacement globally. Domestically, it challenges the U.S. to implement policies that children’s advocates have recommended for years to ensure the protection and appropriate treatment of all migrant and refugee children, including improving coordination and processing of children’s cases, involving professionals with child welfare expertise in the reception and assessment process, providing legal representation and social services supports, and focusing immigration decisions on the best interest of the child.
The recommendations in this document are drawn from KIND’s experience serving unaccompanied and separated children globally, including thousands of children fleeing harm in Central America and Mexico and seeking protection at the U.S.’ Southern border.