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EU must do more to protect unaccompanied children

In a new report on the situation of unaccompanied minors in the EU, the European Commission has called for improved efforts at both national and European level to respond effectively and in full respect of the rights of the child to this complex transnational challenge.

The arrival of unaccompanied minors from third countries is not a temporary phenomenon, but a long-term feature of migratory flows to the EU. In 2011, there were 12,225 asylum applications by unaccompanied minors across the EU27, a number comparable to previous years and unlikely to change in the coming ones.

To increase the protection of unaccompanied minors entering the EU and based on the respect for the rights of the child, the Commission adopted in 2010 an Action Plan that helped bringing into focus the issue of unaccompanied minors who arrive in Europe: each decision affecting a minor’s future must be taken with the best interests of the child at heart, regardless of his migratory status.

The Commission has now adopted a mid-term report on the implementation of the Action Plan on unaccompanied minors, which takes stock of the progress made and identifies the areas which require more attention and targeted action during the next two years. These areas include:

  • Additional efforts in quantitative and qualitative data gathering and exchange are needed, concerning for instance the numbers of minors disappearing from care facilities or the numbers of returned unaccompanied minors. It is necessary to further improve the comparability of data collected across the EU.
  • Continuous engagement and exchanges, by the EU and by Member States, with countries of origin and transit is essential: to share experiences and good practice, to better understand these countries’ needs and to find concrete solutions in relation to prevention, family tracing and safe return of unaccompanied minors.
  • The Commission will continue to prioritise funding for projects. Member States, international and non-governmental organisations are encouraged to use the available financial resources to their fullest potential.
  • The EU is committed to having a common EU asylum system in place by the end of 2012. The Commission has proposed higher standards of protection for unaccompanied children and hopes the Parliament and the Council will find common ground.


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