UNICEF Sweden launches campaign aimed to strengthen child rights laws to protect a growing refugee population.

Last week, Stockholm residents noticed ghostly new additions among themselves on the city’s streets. These mute figures walked down stairs, ran across sidewalks, and napped on benches without any explanation until last Friday, when UNICEF Sweden revealed its cause: to turn the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty designed to protect child rights, into official Swedish law.

Last year, about 3,500 children came to Sweden alone. That figure that has grown exponentially over the past decade — in 2004, just 388 children showed up unaccompanied. Many had witnessed traumatic events from war, poverty, and political persecution with varied personal backgrounds, but all were adapting to life without parental guidance. Upon entering the country, refugee children are placed in transitional housing, but a 2007 report suggested that with such dramatic increases in immigration — and subsequent stress on the system — steps were needed to protect the children from abuse and help them better assimilate into Swedish life.

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