EMN ad hoc query (AHQ) on asylum and improving communication between the authorities and minors Part I & II (2019)


Norway initiated this query because UDI had launched a new website to explain the asylum process in Norway to unaccompanied minors as well as to children whose families are seeking asylum and wanted to benefit from others' experience with the same.

A wide array of information regarding the asylum process in Norway, in many languages, is presented in a child-friendly manner on the new website asylbarn.no/. The next step for the Norwegian project is to publish information also meant for children about forced and voluntary return processes as well as receiving a negative decision.

In Norway, children and unaccompanied asylum seekers represent a large percentage of those who apply for asylum. In 2018, over 40 per cent of the asylum seekers of Norway were children. In keeping with this data, UDI has incorporated contributions from the children asylum seekers to make information regarding the asylum process the best possible. Because of the large number of children involved in the asylum process, this project is important for the Norwegian authorities.

Responses from: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria (only part I), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (only Part II), Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway (25)

Highlights

These two queries provided an overwhelmingly interesting array of ideas, resources and products that can easily be adapted to any MS; something that could prove very time saving and ultimately better serve the interest of the child.

Norway is one of the most progressive thinkers among the respondents and one of only two MS that have established a separate website just for young asylum seekers. Overall, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK seem to have more comprehensive approaches and materials than Norway. Unlike Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway, most MS do not focus on the needs of accompanied children. A number of reporting MS indicated that they have almost no children seeking asylum and therefor no appropriate materials.

Disturbingly, some MS feel the need to educate children about fighting abuse, violence and trafficking. Only 3 of 24 MS (BE, SE, NO) provide self-produced information materials on return appropriate for children. Finland reports that reception center staff do not like providing information about return to minors and only do so if requested by a minor.

For further details, see highlighted points below, and for links go to the compilation documents attached. This is open information and can freely be circulated.

Part I: information about asylum process appropriate for children

  • This query provides us with detailed lists of highly relevant topics deemed important by many for this target group and identifies educational issues that have influenced the development of information programs and/or materials. Sad to say, some MS feel the need to educate children about fighting abuse, violence and trafficking.
  • There are a number of time-saving links to useful materials in English which can be easily adapted.
  • 6 MS (BE, BG, FI, NL, SE, NO) provide information for children not only through written materials including brochures, comics and simple flow charts, but through videos, games and activities: SE has started testing an app. These MS also have routines for conveying information (verbally through professionals) suitable for children in families as well as UM seeking asylum. BE has developed guidelines for parents as well.
  • In addition to written materials, NL and NO also have separate websites especially dedicated to children which provide information through videos about the asylum process and related matters important to children. NL also has a vlog and adult-run activities in reception centers which aim at providing information to children about their situation. A number of other MS have posted relevant information and/ or links to brochures and videos on their homepage.
  • Many of the remaining reporting MS have reflected over the special information needs of UM in the asylum process and do provide some written material in a number of languages and provide verbal orientation from trained staff – but only for UM. FR includes accompanied children in their vulnerability considerations. Some MS rely on parents to relay information to their children (DE, LU, PL). Several MS report that they do not have age-appropriate information for any children because there are so few minors seeking asylum.
  • Several MS (EL, IT, FI, NL, UK) have outsourced this work to specialists or projects; the UK has an especially comprehensive approach for information to UM.

Part II: information about return process

  • Not as many MS give priority to providing information to children about the return process as compared to the number who provide information about the asylum process. Most MS do not give priority to providing information to accompanied minors involved in the return process – some explain that it is expected that the parents will provide this information. In previous EMN AHQs it has been reported that there are a number of MS who do not practice return of minors.
  • 3 MS (BE, SE, NO) provide self-produced information materials on return appropriate for children: BE has “My future” project, SE has started testing an app “Stories” and Norway is working on videos. These MS have routines for conveying information suitable for children in families as well as UM seeking asylum. BE has an especially comprehensive program and project.
  • The UK has produced a special booklet specifically aimed at return of children with their families.
    • 4 MS (AT, CY, HU, NL) report that they make use of materials for UM produced by IOM and UNHCR. In Italy information on return is not provided because unaccompanied minors cannot be returned. The remaining 14 MS do not have any routines in place; a number of these MS report that there are very, very few voluntary returns of minors and no forced returns. FI reports that reception center staff do not like providing information about return to minors and only do so if asked by a minor.
  • BE provided the following list of topics for adults to convey to UM:
    • school-administrative preparation;
    • pedagogical themes such as parenting;
    • participation in the preparation for AVR, saying goodbye and formulating realistic expectations are discussed;
    • obtaining travel documents, the organisation of the return journey, criteria and return premiums;
    • access to reintegration programs and the continuity of medical care;
    • school and general psychosocial well-being upon return.

Summaries and compilations:

OPEN summary Part I NO EMN AHQ on improving communication between authorities and minors.docx (word, 118 kB)

OPEN summary Part II NO EMN AHQ on improving communication between authorities and minors.docx (word, 115 kB)

OPEN compilation Part I 201952_no_emn_ahq_on_asylum_and_improving_communication__between_the_authorities_and_minors.docx (word, 118 kB)

OPEN compilation Part II 201953_no_emn_ahq_part_ii_on_asylum_and_improving_communication_between_the_authorities_and_minors.docx (word, 104 kB)

 

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