This year, 30 000 minors applied for asylum in June alone,
and almost 90 000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in the
European Union in 2015. The present migration and refugee crisis
in Europe has exacerbated the challenges regarding reception and
assistance of children on the move, and has generated new problems of
child protection, in particular in view of the large numbers of
unaccompanied children who go missing.
The gravity of the situation has revealed shortcomings in
national policies which relate to the treatment of all unaccompanied
children – guardianship issues, the way children’s rights and aspirations
are taken into account, child-friendly age-assessment procedures,
as well as the rights to social and medical services and education
and the avoidance of detention at all costs.
The many relevant existing international standards are unevenly
transposed into national regulatory frameworks, and there is consequently
an urgent need to harmonise procedures involving unaccompanied migrant
children from their arrival in Europe to their integration or return,
and to step up international co-operation at all levels.
The present report takes stock of the current situation of
unaccompanied migrant minors and of those who go missing, and proposes
concrete measures for improving procedures and co-operation aimed
at helping these children fleeing their homes to find the better
lives they seek.