The European Parliament adopted a resolution on April 7 calling for the protection of Ukrainian child refugees. Refugee Ukrainian children and young people need to be well taken care of. This is necessary to prevent exploitation, abuse and illegal adoption. They must also be given safe passage from Ukraine to the EU.

The children of the Golden Calf-winning documentary, Shadow Game – about teenage refugees who traveled alone – received a very different reception. They walked thousands of miles on their own from countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Once in Europe, they had to walk through minefields at land borders, were beaten up by violent border guards and pushed back across the border.

“I am happy for Ukrainian children who are being helped. Because I know how bad war and fleeing is,” said Mohammed, one of the boys in Shadow Game. He was 14 when he fled to Europe without his parents. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get any help, but was stopped at the borders in Europe,” Mohammed told NOS Stories.

Every day the pushbacks of these children continue and they are becoming more and more violent. Currently, there are still 22,500 children stranded at Europe’s borders. (Source: Unicef) While Ukrainian minor refugees are, according to some media, welcomed as “heroes” and rightly helped and protected.

Marc Dullaert, Chairman of KidsRights and former President of the European Children’s Ombudsmen stated: “It is fantastic that Europe wants to protect children as we agreed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Why don’t these protection measures apply to all children and minors on the run who enter the EU? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does not discriminate in this, the EU does?”


Petition Protect Children on the Run
The teens from Shadow Game have created the manifesto Protect Children on the Run calling on the European Commission and Parliament to help their peers who are still stuck at our borders as well. The manifesto has already been signed by nearly 20,000 European citizens.

KidsRights, the organization founded by former children’s ombudsman Marc Dullaert, and the makers of the documentary Shadow Game will work together to collect even more signatures.

On June 14, the young people from Shadow Game will tell their story in the European Parliament and offer the petition.

Directors Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel said: “During the making of Shadow Game we have seen countless violations of children’s rights. It is a deliberate European policy to work against children on the move. The children we have followed have arrived traumatized as a result. We now see that a different, humane policy is possible. It is only fair that we apply that policy to all children who are on the move. That is in line with the values we say we stand for.”


Teens on the run
In the documentary Shadow Game, we follow teenagers on a hellish journey through Europe. The film won the Golden Calf for Best Long Documentary, the Prix Europa for Best European Documentary, the Geneva Award and the Dutch Movies Matter Award, among others. The film was broadcasted by KRO-NCRV and can be seen online.

The petition can be signed here:

For more information on the entire Shadow Game project: