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European Commission issues Communication on the Protection of Children in Migration

20 April 2017

On 12 April 2017, the European Commission published a Communication on the protection of children in migration. The Communication provides for coordinated and effective actions to reinforce the protection of children in migration and refugee children arriving in Europe. The text explicitly mentions the vulnerability of separated children.


Priority areas

In the Communication, the Commission proposes a number of priority areas for Member States to focus on in order to improve the protection of children in migration and ensure a closer link between the asylum and child protection services. Member States will be supported by the Commission and EU Agencies. The priority areas proposed by the Commission are:
 
- Swift identification and protection upon arrival
Children in migration should always be identified and registered as children. Vulnerabilities and special protection needs, including healthcare needs, should be better systematically and individually assessed. A person responsible for child protection should be present at an early stage of the registration phase. Member States should put in place the necessary procedures to systematically report and exchange information on all missing children.

- Adequate reception conditions
The needs of each child must be assessed as early as possible upon arrival and all children need to have access to legal assistance, healthcare, psychological support and education without delay and regardless of their status. For separated children, the possibility of foster or family-based care should be provided.

- Swift status determination and effective guardianship
There are currently major shortcomings in the functioning of the guardianship systems in some Member States. The role of guardians of separated children should be strengthened. To this end, the Commission will establish a European guardianship network. Concerted efforts should also be made to speed up family tracing and family reunification procedures, within or outside the EU. 

- Durable solutions and early integration measures
Durable solutions are considered crucial to establish normality and stability for all children in the long term. It is essential that a thorough best interests determination is carried out in all cases.

- Addressing root causes and protecting children along migrant routes outside the EU
Further efforts are needed to support partner countries in strengthening national child protection systems and in preventing child trafficking.


SCEP welcomes the Communication and calls for further action

"The Separated Children in Europe Programme welcomes the Communication on the Protection of Children in Migration published by the European Commission on 12 April 2017. SCEP calls on the EU and its Member States to transform these words into action and address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of separated children." Jantine Walst, coordinator of the SCEP Network.

Click here for the Communication.

Click here for a Q&A  drafted by the Commission to provide background information on the Communication.


Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP) - coordinated by Defence for Children The Netherlands - PO BOX 11103 - 2301 EC - Leiden - 0031 (0)71 516 09 80 - info@scepnetwork.org