This EMN Inform summarises the findings from the 2015 EMN Synthesis Report Policies, practices and data on unaccompanied minors.
Key points to note:
- Unaccompanied minors (UAMs), for the purpose of this Study, are children (as defined by the UN CRC) from third countries, who arrive on the territory of an EU Member State unaccompanied by an adult responsible for them, or who are left unaccompanied after they have entered the territory of the Member State.
- The number of UAMs seeking asylum in the EU has increased steadily since 2010, reaching a total of 24,075 minors in 2014 or 4% of the total number of asylum applicants in 2014, according to Eurostat. Sweden (29%), Germany (18%), Italy (10%), Austria (8%) and the United Kingdom (8%) have received the highest numbers of UAMs in the EU, taken together representing more than 70% of the total of all UAMs applying for asylum in 2014.
- The majority of UAMs applying for asylum in the EU are boys (86%) and the rest are girls (14%). Most of these minors are between 16 and 17 years old (65%), with only a small proportion being less than 14 years old. The main countries of origin of these minors are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria, Somalia, The Gambia and Morocco.
- The number of UAMs who arrive in the EU and are not seeking asylum is unknown and only a few Member States can provide data on minors in this situation. From this data, however, it is clear that this number reached more than 8,500 in 2013. A considerable proportion of these minors have arrived in Italy, with a number of other (Member) States also reporting data on UAMs in this situation. There is a general lack of comprehensive and comparable data on the numbers of and outcomes for non-asylum seeking UAMs, but also those minors seeking asylum in the EU.
- The Study identifies a number of gaps and challenges that still need to be addressed to ensure all UAMs benefit from the same level of protection. Overall, whilst many provisions and measures are available for asylum-seeking UAMs and those granted international protection (under the EU acquis and international legislation), this is not always the case for non-asylum seeking UAMs. At present, these UAMs do not appear to benefit from the same level of protection either in law or in practice.
- The Study highlights a number of good practices which have been adopted by some (Member) States since 2009, which could be useful to policy-makers to contribute to policy and practices to strengthen the protection of UAMs in the EU, whilst avoiding the ‘inequalities’ between asylum- and non-asylum seeking minors identified by the research presented here.