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Relocation of unaccompanied children: challenges and good practices

Graffiti/shadow on a brickwall showing a refugee girl walking with her suitcase
bettysphotos ©, 2020
Since 2015, thousands of boys and girls arrived to the EU without their parents. Almost 1,400 of these unaccompanied children have already been relocated from France, Greece, Italy and Malta to other EU Member States through relocation schemes. As a number of EU Member States have recently started relocating some children from Greece again, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) publishes a report highlighting the challenges and good practices of past relocation programmes. This report will help national authorities to take measures that fully comply with the rights of children and are practically feasible at the same time.

FRA’s report “Relocation of unaccompanied children: applying good practices to future schemes” highlights the challenges and good practices gathered in the implementation of different mandatory and voluntary relocation programmes since 2015.

The report focuses on key steps of the relocation procedure from the moment a child is identified for relocation to the child’s integration in the Member State of destination.

Based on FRA’s desk research and over 45 interviews with 72 representatives from national authorities, European institutions, international organisations and civil society organisations, the Agency calls on the EU and its Member States to consider the following four measures:

  • putting in place reasonable timelines for relocation of unaccompanied children that allow for the effective protection of the child;
  • using eligibility criteria based on the child’s vulnerability and protection needs;
  • ensuring the child is supported by a legal guardian during all steps in the relocation;
  • maintaining family unity and facilitating family reunion if this is in the best interests of the child.

Background information:

FRA conducted the interviews between November 2019 and March 2020 in 10 EU Member States: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal.