The Way Forward to Strengthened Policies and Practices for Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Europe

Regional and national laws in Europe provide a solid framework for child protection, based on international standards. However these laws have not systematically translated into a positive impact on the wellbeing of refugee and migrant children. Instead, children, state institutions, and non-governmental actors often find themselves confronted with complex, confusing, costly, and bureaucratic procedures which do not adequately take into account the best interests of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC).

UNHCR, UNICEF, and IRC established a consultative process to support states to better operationalise their response for the protection of UASC in Europe – the Roadmap to Strengthened Policies and Practices. The process included three consultations with around 100 practitioners (guardians, psychologists, social workers, lawyers, teachers and others) from nearly all European countries involved in the current refugee and migrant crisis, a roundtable with nine European states, consultation with European Union (EU) level actors, and individual or group discussions with over 50 UASC living in Europe.

The consultative process produced concrete recommendations on a way forward, captured in this paper, for efficient, lean, and harmonised processes which ensure children are protected and can access procedures and solutions in accordance with their best interests.

Published 2019-01-04