Yesterday in the Royal Palace of Stockholm, Queen Silvia and Princess Sofia of Sweden met with child rights organisations, including the Barnombudsmannen. The Barnombudsmannen is a governmental agency in Sweden that represents children and young people’s rights based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Swedish Royal Court said this was a follow-up workshop with “efforts to help newly arrived children and young people”. The Queen had previously met with them this past spring.
Representatives from Barnombudsmannen, BRISlänk, Care About the Children, ECPAT, Mentor Sweden, Plan International Sweden, Save the Children, Scouts, Lonely Descendants Union, SOS Children’s Villages, UNICEF, and the World Childhood Foundation were in attendance. Her Majesty founded the World Childhood Foundation in 1999.
The work of the organisations for the past year was discussed, as was the discussions with unaccompanied children who had been interviewed regarding their experiences. The interviews were put together in a report entitled “Children on the run – children and young voices on the reception of the unaccompanied”. Many of the unaccompanied children entering Sweden and other countries end up suffering from mental illness.
Omid Mahmoudi and Hamza Ibrahim were invited to the workshop to personally share their experiences through the Lonely Descendants Union. They explained that there is a meeting place at Venue Otto in Malmo for unaccompanied children.
Hamza Ibrahim, President of Lonely Descendants, explained further, “It is a meeting place for unaccompanied minors and young newcomers where we invite to various activities. At the meeting, at Otto, we want to break their loneliness and make them feel togetherness. We who run the venue itself has these experiences. It is important that newcomers can come to us and talk and exchange experiences. It is appreciated.”
Many children call the union helpline who have fled from the war-torn Middle East. UNICEF estimated that close to 50 million children are displaced, with 28 million of them from due to war and persecution in their homelands.
Queen Silvia and Princess Sofia listened intently and participated in the group discussions regarding the refugee children in Sweden. The assembled group spoke about the potential shortcomings and potential future collaborations for these children, as well.
Project Playground, the non-profit organisation Princess Sofia founded with her friend Frida Vesterberg in 2010, focuses on the refugee children in Sweden. Project Playground told Royal Central in September that they had just started operation for the refugee children coming into Sweden and had already gotten 60 unaccompanied minors involved in their activities, and they expect that number to continue rising.
Queen Silvia ended the workshop by thanking the guests for their participation and cooperation. She ended the workshop by saying, “Organisations can not do everything on their own, but together we can achieve so much.”