Protecting Migrant Children and Unaccompanied Minors in the EU: Developing a Co-ordinated Approach to the Emerging Crisis
Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre Avenue du Boulevard 17, B-1210 Brüssel, Belgien
Public Policy Exchange
Children make up more than 30% of all asylum seekers in Europe (Unicef). The latest Eurostat data show that in 2017 31.400 asylum seekers were unaccompanied minors (UAM’s), a decrease in numbers since the record high peak of 2015, but over two and a half times higher than the annual average during the period 2008-2013 (Eurostat, 2018). Furthermore, according to Missing Children Europe, a child is reported missing every 2 minutes in Europe. Europol estimates that 10.000 unaccompanied migrant children have disappeared after their registration (Europol, 2016).
The EU has a moral duty, as well as a legal responsibility for the safeguarding of unaccompanied minors arriving to any member country. Since 2015, the EU has taken several measures to address the phenomenon. The European Commission, for its part, published in 2017 a series of recommendations outlining priority actions for the protection of migrant and refugee children, including the appointment of a guardian upon arrival in Europe; the guarantee of legal assistance; healthcare; psychosocial support’ and education and reliable and non-invasive procedures to assess the age of young-asylum seekers, among others. In 2017 the Council of Europe published the Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019), which was adopted by the 47 member states. The Action Plan focuses on ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, providing effective protection, and enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe.
Despite the considerable improvements to the EU asylum acquis, much more remains to be done to guarantee the well being of unaccompanied minors and prevent further migrant children from going missing and to address the gaps in legislation. These recommendations are far from being sufficient, as they do not have binding force and depend on the goodwill of member states. Access to reliable data is also a factor impeding the development of a coordinated response. In fact, according to the European Association for the defence of Human Rights (AEDH), there are currently no reliable data across countries on the exact number of missing children, and even less data on the causes of their disappearances.
In light of these developments, this timely symposium offers an invaluable opportunity to examine effective strategies to improve child protection across the EU and explore innovative methods of collaboration between Member States. Delegates will also have the chance to evaluate the effectiveness of assistance tools and child alert mechanisms. Public Policy Exchange welcomes the participation of all key partners, responsible authorities and stakeholders.
There is a 20% early registration discount off the standard delegate rates (subject to type of organisation and terms and conditions) for bookings received by the 14th September 2018.
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