Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children

In almost all armed conflicts, mass population displacements, natural disasters and other crises, a number of children become separated from their families or from other adults responsible for them. These children form one of the most vulnerable groups in these situations, often deprived of care and protection. Most can be reunited with parents, siblings, members of the extended family or other adults whom they know and who are willing to provide for their care.

Action on behalf of unaccompanied and separated children should be guided by principles enshrined in international standards. The validity of these principles has been confirmed by experience and lessons learnt from conflicts and natural disasters in recent years.

The objective of the present publication is to outline the guiding principles which form the basis for action in this regard.

These Guiding Principles are intended primarily for national, international and non-governmental organizations and other associations concerned with separated children. They are also designed to assist governments and donors in meeting their obligations and taking funding decisions.

©ICRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children UK, and International Rescue Committee