Children in migration
It is fundamental to ensure that any child needing protection receives it and that, regardless of their immigration status, citizenship or background, all children are treated as children first and foremost.
(Action Plan on unaccompanied minors 2010-2014)
Data on children in migration
According to UNICEF:
• There are 50 million children in migration worldwide- 28 million of them fled violence and insecurity;
• one in 200 children is a refugee
• One in three children living outside country of birth is a refugee
• Children constitute half the refugee population,
• one in eight migrants is a child
• Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide
• There are 5.4 million child migrants in Europe (about 7% of region's migrants)
In 2015, 31% of refugees who arrived by sea were children. The proportion of children (unaccompanied and accompanied) among sea arrivals in Greece in early 2016 has been as high as 40%.
One in four asylum applicants in the EU in 2015 was a child. Ninety-six thousand unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU in 2015.
Children in migration are continuously exposed to risks such as violence (including in reception/transit centres), physical abuse, exploitation, sexual abuse and trafficking for the purpose of sexual or other exploitation, going missing or becoming separated from their families. Children have arrived in Europe with obvious signs of injury, trauma, and physical, sexual and psychological abuse incurred on their way, including on EU territory.
The House of Lords report on unaccompanied children in the EU released in July 2016 listed some of the challenges faced by unaccompanied children:
1. Dangers faced while entering the EU irregularly
2. Lack of protection while following EU migration routes undetected
3. Lack of safe reception, reception capacity, proper reception conditions, inspection and monitoring
4. Measures to prevent movement to their preferred country of destination
5. Procedural and other obstacles to family reunification
6. The risk of administrative detention, including in inappropriate conditions (such as a lack of separation from adults)
7. Vulnerability to sexual violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking
8. Lack of reliable information and advice, including information about trafficking
9. Lack of legal advice and support
10. Use of invasive methods to assess age, with variable results and reliability
EU actions on children in migration
Closer ties need to be forged between authorities working on asylum and migration and those on child protection.
To this end, the European Commission has proposed 10 principles for integrated child protection systems , which provide a framework for the protection of children in migration.
Other EU actions on children in migration:
• On 10 February 2016, the Commission adopted a Communication on the state of play of the implementation of the European agenda on migration , which refers to a comprehensive approach for the protection of children throughout the migration chain. Annex 6 provides an overview of ongoing actions contributing to the protection of children in migration.
• On 4 May and 13 July, the Commission published proposals to reform the Common European Asylum System. Check Child-specific provisions in the Common European Asylum Package.
• 10th European Forum on the rights of the child (29-30 November 2016) will be dedicated to the protection of children in migration.
• See the compilation of data, situation and media reports on children in migration
Relevant funding for children in migration:
- Rights, Equality and Citzenship Programme 2016: direct grant relating to the protection of children in migration and call for proposals on guardianship and foster-care for unaccompanied children
- DG HOME: Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)
- DG EAC funding
- DG ECHO funding opportunities
- DG DEVCO funding opportunities
- European Social Fund (ESF)
- Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)
- Factsheet - Protecting child refugees and migrants