The Children’s Rights Committee of the Council of Europe said that in the migrant transit zones along the Serbian-Hungarian border, there is a lack of effective measures to protect child migrants and asylum seekers from sexual abuse.

A report by the Children’s Rights Committee of the Council of Europe “deplores” the lack of effective measures taken to protect migrant and asylum-seeking children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in transit zones at the Serbian-Hungarian border.

In a statement, the committee said that children in these zones continue to face unnecessary risks because Hungarian authorities have not done enough to protect them, despite a few positive developments.​ The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual​ Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (“Lanzarote Committee”)  had visited the transit zones in 2017 and provided recommendations to the Hungarian authorities last year.

From continued blocking of NGO access to the transit zones, to inadequate age verification, the report outlines enduring challenges that children face there.​

The statement said the Lanzarote Committee continues to consider deplorable the fact that unaccompanied children aged 14-18 are still treated as adults under immigration procedures. Children remain detained in fenced, open-air areas with containers for shelter. Unaccompanied children aged 14-18 – especially girls – are still not cared for within the regular Hungarian child protection system, which increases their risk for sexual exploitation and abuse.

The committee is particularly concerned over the expected closing of the Károlyi István Children’s Home at Fót. The Lanzarote Committee said it has not received precise information on alternative accommodation (and conditions) foreseen for the unaccompanied children.