Give migrant youth a chance

Across the EU, various promising initiatives have sprung up to support young migrants become part of European society, following the large-scale influx of migrants and refugees to the EU. Marking International Youth Day on 12 August, FRA draws attention to their situation and urges Member States to do more to help them fully integrate.

Many young migrants and refugees have come to the EU since 2015 when migration numbers peaked. Upon arrival, many had to sleep rough, and children and young people often received no education.

Nearly 2 million people have since received international protection, many of whom are young. As they are likely to stay and settle in the EU, successful integration and inclusion will ultimately benefit Europe and newly-arrived young people alike.

FRA research, due to be released at the end of the year, focuses on young refugees aged 16-24. It highlights the various challenges they face and identifies promising practices that some countries are using to boost integration.

These range from social services in Swedish municipalities guiding unaccompanied children turning 18 as they move to independent flats, an ‘advice café’ in Bremen, Germany, offering counselling and information to young refugees to an Austrian scheme providing tailored support to help young adults find appropriate training and internships.

But Member States should do more. They need to provide support and opportunities that will enable young refugees to fully engage in society. This includes:

  • improving access to education and employment;
  • enabling family reunification;
  • providing long-term housing solutions;
  • offering social assistance as well as mental health support to cope with the trauma of having fled, travelled and arrived in a foreign country.

In 2015 and 2016, countries were unprepared and not equipped to manage the sudden and large numbers of arrivals to the EU. Although numbers have fallen, migration still remains a contentious societal and political issue, and challenges remain.

Refugee youth will only be able to fully take part in society, if Member States take the necessary steps to improve the integration and inclusion process. In doing so they can help ensure we do not lose, but instead gain, a whole bright new generation.