Liquid children: reflections on the movements forced migrant children towards their ‘best interests’

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The University of Nottingham Children and Childhood Network is pleased to announce its 2016 annual lecture to be delivered by Professor Ravi KS Kohli. The lecture will be followed by a reception at Highfield House. With thanks to the Rights and Justice Research Priority Area.

Abstract from the speaker

For children who move from their countries of origin to new countries, there are many risks, challenges and opportunities. In this presentation, I explore the notion that children who are forced migrants move in three dimensions. Firstly, they make journeys across geographical spaces. Secondly, they move across time, getting older as they go, amassing experiences and memories of where they have been. Thirdly, they move psychologically in different directions, arranging their stories of who they are, what happened to them, and how they came to be asking for sanctuary. These movements in inner and outer worlds require energy and will in order to feel coordinated and harmonised, and to settle in a country where protection is present legally, practically and psychologically in the short and long term. Yet the management of these movements is seldom possible without the orchestrated commitment of helpers, whose ethics, skills and expert knowledge need to be deployed carefully to assist children on the move. The purpose of assistance is itself about ensuring such children can generate a sense of being ‘at home’ in safe and durable ways wherever they are located in countries of life long settlement. So, I consider how the fluid nature of their circumstances can be given some solid hope within the meaning of Article 3 of the UNCRC. In that respect, I examine how practical projects help them to rebuild an ordinary future, after their extraordinary journeys, within contexts that are both protective and dangerous.

Professor Ravi Kohli is Professor of Child Welfare at the University of Bedfordshire

He is a qualified social worker, and a migrant to the UK. In the UK he has co-evaluated the first system of Guardianship for asylum seeking children in Scotland. On behalf of the Chief Inspector of Borders and Migration, he has conducted thematic reviews of Country of Origin reports produced by the UK Home Office, considering the ways children are represented in such reports within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 2013 he was a specialist adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children in the UK. In 2015 Ravi led a team in the evaluation of a Home Office funded trial of ‘independent child trafficking specialist advocates’ for children who are trafficked internally and across borders. He has published widely in the field of forced migration, focusing on policy and practice in the care of unaccompanied children. His latest paper is on Protecting Asylum Seeking Children on the Move.

Free, please register online.

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