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Unaccompanied minors in urgent need of protection

Unaccompanied minors in the EU often find themselves in a deplorable situation. To end this, the European Parliament Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs adopted, with a very convincing majority, a motion for a resolution from MEP Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE). The situation some unaccompanied minors find themselves in, 'is in defiance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and especially in defiance of the very dignity of these children', as the European Democratic Party put it.

Griesbeck researched the topic of unaccompanied minors extensively and collected her findings in this report. The motion for a resolution that was based on Griesbeck's report (which can be found through the same link) urges Member States to never place a minor in detention and it urges the Parliament to incorporate this prohibition in the reception standards for unaccompanied minors.

Nathalie Griesbeck declares: "We affirm two essential principles: on the one hand these children are first and foremost children, and on the other, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration. () We call on the European Commission for strategic guidelines: we want a practical tool, a tool useful for the Member States, for the actors. These guidelines, based on existing good practices, will provide common minimum standards for each 'step process' from the arrival of the child in Europe and until a durable solution is found ()."

Griesbeck's report 'points to the obvious protection gap at EU level as regards the reception of and provision of assistance to unaccompanied minors' and it 'recalls in this context that ensuring the security and health of unaccompanied minors, regardless of the length of their stay in the EU, is the responsibility of the respective Member States.' When it comes to guardians, the report recommends to 'strengthen the status of legal guardians in the EU and partner countries' and asks for 'adequate long-term funding' for the appointment of legal guardians.

The report and the overwhelming support from the Parliament's Committee are good news, but Griesbeck acknowledges that this is only the start: "We have an ambitious document, up to the fundamental needs of these children. It is necessary that it is followed and consolidated at European and at national levels."

UPDATE: On 12 September 2013 the European Parliament adopted in plenary session the Resolution proposed by Griesbeck with only a slight alteration compared to the motion mentioned above. The full text of the final Resolution can be found here.

Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP) - coordinated by Defence for Children The Netherlands - PO BOX 11103 - 2301 EC - Leiden - 0031 (0)71 516 09 80 - info@scepnetwork.org