UNACCOMPANIED MINORS: The reception and care of unaccompanied minors in eight countries of the European Union


For many years all European countries have been faced with the arrival on their territory of migrants of a particular type: unaccompanied minors. Even though this designation varies according to each State, the term will be used throughout this study to refer to those children of less than 18 years of age, belonging to a country outside the European Union and unaccompanied by a legal representative.

This migratory phenomenon was identified from the 1970’s in several member States and it increased during the 1990’s to reach substantial numbers in recent years. Children from sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East or Asia, arrive in Europe this way every year in search of protection, of a better life, or to join a member of their family.

While this problem concerns all of the 27 Member States of the European Union, these young people will receive a very different reception and be taken care of rather differently by each individual country. This great disparity in legislation and national practice is explained by the failure to deal with this problem at the European level. Many International or Community Standards related to this subject matter are applicable to the countries of the European Union, but this legislative context has not really helped to reduce the protection gap between the member States.

This project, which is co-funded by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights and Citizenship program, was coordinated by France terre d’asile (France) and carried out in partnership with two non-governmental organisations : the Institute for Rights, Equality and Diversity (Greece), and the Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (Italy).

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