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New EMN Ireland report Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in Ireland

Date Published: 04-12-2018

A new EMN Ireland report, Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in Ireland, finds that when unaccompanied minors turn 18 without status they are often transferred from a care placement to direct provision accommodation as asylum seekers, where provision of aftercare supports is challenging.

Key findings:

  • In 2017, 175 unaccompanied minors were referred to Tusla, an increase since 2014 when 97 were referred 
  • All unaccompanied minors placed in care are assigned a social worker and receive care on a par with other children in the care system
  • Unaccompanied minors with protection status have access to integration supports including aftercare. However very few unaccompanied minors are awarded this status, partly because of delays in making applications
  • These children rarely apply for alternative immigration statuses. Therefore most unaccompanied minors in Ireland do not have a clear protection or immigration status.

Some unaccompanied minors have arrived in Ireland as part of a dedicated scheme, including 22 under the EU Relocation Scheme and 41 as part of the Calais Special Project. The majority of these children were granted refugee status on arrival or shortly thereafter.

However, most arrive in Ireland spontaneously to seek protection from conflict, persecution or serious harm, to reunite with family members or for education reasons. While most of these children eventually apply for protection, few receive a decision before the age of 18. This is partly due to delays in making the application. In some cases social workers don’t submit applications for some time as they feel that the child is not ready for the process or fear that a negative decision would lead to the child going missing. Between 2014 and 2017, the number of applications for protection ranged between 30 and 34 per year. Unaccompanied minors rarely apply for alternative forms of immigration permission.

In 2017, 175 unaccompanied minors were referred to the care of Tusla, up from 97 in 2014. The increase is partly reflective of the global rise in people seeking protection and Ireland’s commitment to accept minors as part of dedicated schemes. The most common countries of origin were Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia. Of those referred in 2017, 53 were female and 123 were male. More than 50 per cent of unaccompanied minors referred are aged between 16 and 17.

Regardless of their status, all unaccompanied minors are referred to Tusla. They are assigned a social worker and receive care on a par with other children in the care system. A small number are reunited with family already in Ireland or other countries such as the UK. Most are placed in foster care, supported lodgings or residential units. However, at the age of 18, their status determines the options available to them in terms of accommodation, education and other supports.

For more information:

Read Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in Ireland

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