International community call for use of International Guidelines to ensure maximum protection of children
Just weeks after the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Guidelines for the
Alternative Care of Children, the international community is struggling to provide appropriate care and
protection for children and families in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. The Guidelines are the
first international document on the care of children without parental care in non-emergency and
Now is the time to apply the Guidelines within a coordinated international relief effort in Haiti.
The Guidelines stress that in emergency situations, the primary goal is to trace and reunify children
with their families to the maximum extent possible prior to any other permanent solution being
pursued. Even in the worst disasters, such as this, most children have extended family members
willing and able to care for them. No relief effort should inadvertently promote the separation of
children from their immediate and extended family. In particular, children in emergency situations
should not be moved to another country for the purpose of alternative care except temporarily for
compelling health, medical or safety reasons. If the latter is necessary, the Guidelines stress that
children should be moved as close as possible to their home, they should be accompanied by a parent
or caregiver known to the child, and a clear return plan should be established.
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