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Analytical report on the unaccompanied asylum seeker and refugee children in Romania (Unofficial translation)

Raport analitic privind situația copiilor neînsoțiți solicitanți de azil și refugiați (Original language title)

This report was commissioned by the Jesuit Refugee Service as part of the Border Management and Protection of Asylum Seekers project, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Romania.

The report is the result of qualitative research, comprising 39 interviews with unaccompanied children and specialists, analysis of legislation and a cross-check consultation with child protection staff, conducted from June to November 2020 by Save the Children Romania.

The aim of the research was to assess the functioning of the system in place to provide protection to unaccompanied refugee children in Romania. Four key objectives were outlined:

  1. Identifying the main gaps in the child protection system;
  2. Assessing children's perception of the appropriateness of services received;
  3. Assessing service providers' perception of the appropriateness of services provided;
  4. Identifying solutions and providing recommendation to improve the services provided to unaccompanied refugee children.

Key findings

The main finding of the report was a lack of standardised protection of unaccompanied refugee children across the country. In other words, there is lack of a unitary practice at the national level which hampers the adequate provision of services and legal guarantees for some of these children.

Several 'sensitive' areas are identified in the report, including communication, appointment of a legal guardian, education, and access to health care. Some children reported that they receive insufficient or no information from child protection staff; others stressed that the information they did receive was not adapted to their knowledge and language skills. Difficulty in securing interpretation services within the child protection system was another issue.

With respect to legal guardianship, in many cases this was shown to be enacted as a formality, as the person appointed was neither involved in the child’s life nor provided him/her with advice and guidance. Enrolment in education was also identified as a problematic area, with children usually falling behind their peers. With respect to health care, most of the children reported that they rely on the support of NGOs for health check-ups. The COVID-19 pandemic has served to worsen unaccompanied refugee children’s access to rights in all areas.

Read the full report here.

Eliza Trană-Pîslaru, Ciprian Grădinaru, Roxana Paraschiv
Posted by:
Country Coordinator Romania