Children at risk
UNICEF’s work to protect children at risk includes legislative and institutional reform, advocacy on the rights and requirements of vulnerable children, capacity building of child protection services and piloting of child protection systems.
A national protection system
UNICEF is advocating for a national child protection system to support all vulnerable children, including:
children living on the streets
children in conflict with the law
victims of trafficking, violence, abuse and exploitation.
The system will link together all organizations and institutions (public and private) that support children at risk. Outreach activities will identify different groups of vulnerable children and help them access services for health, shelter, education, social and legal assistance.
To support the network, UNICEF is facilitating the development of a national child protection information management system and the design of national social services training.
UNICEF is piloting a number of community-based child protection systems.
Children orphaned or made vulnerable by Cyclone Sidr have been fostered by relatives or other families in their local communities. The 2,000 foster families receive monthly cash transfers and are visited every month by government social workers.
199 former camel jockeys have been successfully reunited with their families. The reintegration programme for the camel jockeys will serve as a model for future community-based care initiatives.
UNICEF is working to establish a protection system for Rohingya refugee children in Cox’s Bazar in collaboration with UNHCR.
UNICEF is developing minimum care standards for institutions that care for orphans, children in contact with the law, and victims of trafficking and abuse. This has included training for institution staff in child-friendly and gender-appropriated care.
UNICEF supports institutionalization only as a last resort and is seeking to decrease the number of children living in institutions through legal reform and alternative care policies, including the development of a separate juvenile justice code.
Drop-in centres for children living on the street
UNICEF supports reintegration services for over 5,000 children living on the streets in six city corporations. Children in drop-in centres receive basic education, counselling, life-skills training and job placement, as well as food and shelter. Family support and community outreach activities encourage parents and community members to interact with the children and help them readjust to life in the general community.
Support for camel jockeys
Since 2005, UNICEF has worked closely with the Government of the United Arab Emirates to repatriate 168 trafficked camel jockeys and provide support for a further 31 boys who returned independently to Bangladesh. The children lived in shelters on their return, where they received medical, educational and psycho-social support. The children then moved back to their communities, where support continues to be available through community care committees. The committees also work to raise awareness about trafficking and protect other children from human traffickers.
Uniting against trafficking
UNICEF is working with the Government of India and the Government of Bangladesh to prevent cross border human trafficking and develop a uniform system for the rescue, recovery, repatriation and reintegration of trafficking victims. UNICEF works to repatriate and reintegrate children who have been trafficked to India for sexual or commercial exploitation.