The European Commission's new plan for increasing the amount of migrants returned to their home or transit countries could put many children in danger, said several NGOs in a joint statement on Friday.
In the statement, the organizations _ which included UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and Save the Children _ denounced that the new policies for accelerated returns provided fewer safeguards for children and increased detentions.
"Rather than address the harm to children already caused by the European Union and member states return policies, the Commission document recommends measures that would increase it," read the statement, which was published by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.
The Commission's plans, unveiled Thursday, were intended to remove pressure from the asylum application system, thus allowing those in most urgent need of help to be granted refugee status sooner.
It would also discourage people who could apply to enter the EU through legal means to attempt dangerous irregular journeys then request asylum, but the statements' signatories disagreed.
"There is no evidence that forced removal dissuades people from migrating," it said, adding that "returning them to unsustainable situations increases the risk of further cycles of precarious and insecure migration."
The new action plans also encouraged detentions, which the organizations said were never an acceptable measure to take when dealing with children.
The NGOs said those returning to their homes would be in even more danger than before, as often they are rejected by their local communities and are put at risk of exploitation.
According to the statement, three unaccompanied Afghan minors committed suicide in Sweden earlier in the year as they felt increasingly anxious about the asylum-seeking purpose and were terrified of being deported to a place where they felt they were in danger.
"Behind the policy decisions and targets to enforce return decisions are the lives of real children and families," said the statement, which emphasized that children's needs and wishes had to be taken into account by migration policies.
"The EU and its member states have long been leaders on children's rights. We urge them to uphold their commitments to all children, regardless of migration or residence status," it said.