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SCEP NGO Network Meeting in Cyprus 26-27 June 2013

3 July 2013

On 26 and 27 June 2013 a meeting of the Separated Children in Europe Programme took place in Cyprus. This was the first time the Network members got together under the coordination of Defence for Children- the Netherlands. SCEP consists of 33 non-governmental organisations from 28 European countries aiming to realize the rights of separated children.


An estimated 100.000 separated children live in Europe who apply for asylum without their parents or seek protection based on other grounds. All European countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The degree of protection these children receive however varies between States as well as within States. Defence for Children and SCEP work on changing this situation in order to ensure that every child in Europe gets the protection that he or she is entitled to. One way in which Defence for Children, together with a number of SCEP-partners, works on the harmonization of protection is through the project 'Closing a Protection Gap 2.0'. In this project, the partners work on the implementation of the Core Standards for guardians of separated children in Europe.

Support for the Core Standards

The SCEP NGO Network Meeting was opened by a delegate from the Cypriot Minister of labor and social security, Ms. Chara Tapanidiou. "The Core Standards for Guardians of Separated Children are very important for all European countries", as she stated on behalf of the Minister. In his speech, the Minister emphasizes that for the harmonisation of the protection of unaccompanied minors in Europe the Core Standards are of great importance, and that he hopes that the Standards will soon be embraced in all European countries".

Over the course of two days, the SCEP partners discussed the developments around age assessment, guardianship, and return and reintegration. Also SCEP projects and statements were prepared. During lunchtime five unaccompanied minors joined the SCEP Network partners and talked about how it feels to arrive in a country that you do not know. Some children thought they were taken to Italy, only to find out later that they were actually in Cyprus.
The children experience a lot of discrimination and a lack of future perspective. Sometimes they have to wait for years before they can apply for asylum. What they miss most is to be loved.
"The authorities think that with a roof over our heads and some food we are happy. But what we really need is love", says a girl from Cameroon who is in Cyprus without her parents.

The SCEP NGO Network meeting reaffirms that the rights of separated children in all European countries are under pressure, but that there is a lot of inspiration for the improvement of their situation. 

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