Unaccompanied child migrants failed by EU Member States, including the UK

Category: Refugee and asylum seeking children

26th July 2016

Unaccompanied migrant children are being systematically let down, says the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in a new report. In 2015, 88,245 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU and at least 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children are estimated to be missing.

In 2015 88,245 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU and a conservative estimate from EUROPOL suggests that at least 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children are currently missing in the EU.

Commenting on the new report, Baroness Prashar, Chairman of the Sub-Committee, said:

"The current refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian challenge the EU has faced in its lifetime. At the sharp end of this crisis are unaccompanied migrant children, who are being failed across the board.

"We found a clear failure among EU countries, including the UK, to shoulder their fair share of the burden. We deeply regret the UK Government's reluctance to relocate migrant children to the UK, in particular those living in terrible conditions in the camps near the channel ports.

"It is particularly shocking that so many unaccompanied child migrants are falling out of the system altogether and going missing. How can Member States, including the UK, tolerate a situation where there are more than 10,000 missing migrant children in the EU?

"We urge the EU institutions and the UK Government to address these complex problems urgently. At the end of the day, unaccompanied child migrants are children, first and foremost, and we need to work together to care for them in a decent and humane way."

Conclusions and recommendations of the report:

  • Member States across the EU are failing to share the burden collectively and little progress has been made in the relocation of unaccompanied child migrants;
  • Lack of action and implementation of existing measures is leading to increased vulnerability of unaccompanied children to smugglers, traffickers and organised crime;
  • Unaccompanied migrant children are often not believed and treated with a level of suspicion, with age disputes often adversely affecting their treatment and their well-being;
  • Children display a lack of trust in the authorities, and in some cases resort to drastic measures to avoid cooperating with them;
  • A stronger focus on developing durable solutions should be followed, retaining the principle of prioritising the child's best interests at its core;
  • A system of independent guardians, appointed as soon as possible to act in the child's best interests, should be established across the EU and the UK.
  • Read the new report 'Children in crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU' here.
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