New EMN report published: Children in migration 2020

How do Member States and Norway ensure the care and protection of children who arrive in their countries, and what measures are in place in relation to guardianship, education, access to justice, and more? This new report from the European Migration Network (EMN) provides an overview of the progress made during 2020 in the implementation of the recommendations laid out in the 2017 Communication on the protection of children in migration and is the second edition of a series of reports developed by the EMN.

In 2017, the Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration endorsed actions to foster the protection of all migrant children at EU and national level. This EMN report outlines the progress made to implement these actions during 2020 and provides examples from 24 Member States and Norway across the key areas set out in the 2017 Communication, including identification, registration, reception, asylum procedures, alternative care, access to education, guardianship and access to justice. Additional material provided by non-governmental organisations helps to illustrate good practice examples and identify on-going gaps in provision for protecting children in migration.

Although the number of migrant children registered in the EU has decreased in recent years, the number, including unaccompanied minors, remained high in 2020. According to Eurostat, Member States and Norway received some 13.550 asylum applications from unaccompanied minors.

The protection of children in migration resulted in new developments in legislation and policy at EU and national level throughout 2020. The report outlines the examination of accommodation and care standards and specific approaches for certain age groups of minors; the accommodation of minors in specially adapted or expanded facilities corresponding to their needs; and, the enhancement of training provision for police officers, child services and reception system staff who work with migrant children. New alternative (non-institutional) care options for unaccompanied children, particularly regarding family-based care/care-families, were introduced or improved by two Member States and Norway in 2020.

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Member States introduced temporary measures to minimise the health consequences for migrant children. For example, staff guidelines have been introduced as part of the identification and registration of (unaccompanied) minors, as well as measures to maintain access to justice/ procedural safeguards and to education for all pupils (including those with a migrant background).