Separated asylum-seeking children: An examination of living conditions, provisions and decision making procedures in selected EU Member States through child centred participatory research

Objectives - Why this project and for whom?

The aim of this project was to provide EU and national policymakers, agencies and services with a valuable insight into separated asylum-seeking children's views and perspectives. This will assist them in improving the quality of asylum conditions, as well as the legal procedures and relevant support structures in the states that host the children. 

Details - What did the project involve?

The project dealt mainly with children over 14 years of age and involves 12 countries across the EU. Separated foreign children do not always apply for asylum, but some may stay in the country irregularly under the supervision of the host state without undergoing asylum procedures. This latter category of children was not excluded from the study if the children concerned are under the host state's care. The target group was separated children who are third country nationals.

First, the project aimed at the collection and examination through desk research of the relevant background information on the relevant legal and administrative provisions applicable.

The main focus of the project, however, was child-centered research. Children's participation is a fundamental component of the rights of the child, as enshrined in Article 12 of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child. Children's perspectives and interests often differ from those of adults. Therefore, the FRA explores children's views and experiences directly, as a critical means to assess the adequacy of current practices and to identify the changes necessary, in order to ensure that they are appropriately tailored to the children's needs. The study used methods which empower the children concerned to engage actively in the research findings which portray their situation, and which may potentially contribute to the shaping of their future.

Innovation - What's 'new' about the project?

The project involved applying a fieldwork methodology that encompasses elements of innovative research and consultation with children and adults, acknowledging the overlap between the two, because the outcome should both enhance knowledge about the children's situation and be policy oriented.

Outputs - What did the project deliver?

  • Comparative final report (in English and French)
  • Summary report (in English and French)


Related Information

Children sometimes flee their country of origin with their parents, other relatives or unaccompanied, for fear of persecution, displaced by war, or to escape from abusive environments or extreme poverty; occasionally they flee trafficking or sexual or labour exploitation. Among these children, those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver are particularly vulnerable as they have often lost what is most familiar: parents, home, country, family, school, friends, language and culture. In accordance with their international obligations to respect, protect and promote children's rights, EU Member States should provide the best possible support to these children.

The FRA initiated this research project on separated asylum-seeking children, who are third country nationals or stateless persons in EU Member States, in order to investigate their current situation and to provide the EU institutions and Member States with a valuable insight into these children's views and perspectives. The project investigated children's views and, in addition, the views, experiences and perspectives of adults (i.e. relevant officials and other personnel) dealing with them. At the core of the project is child-centred research, as a critical means of assessing the adequacy of current practices and to identify the changes necessary. In addition to asylum-seeking children, the study included separated children staying irregularly in the host country (e.g. not undergoing asylum-seeking procedures, and those whose asylum claim has been rejected).

The fieldwork research for the project was carried out by the IOM in 12 EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

This project page was last updated pm 17.09.2014