Vulnerable and voiceless in the move: Unaccompanied child migrants in the EU
A significant part of child migration is “often invisible in data and policy”, but available data shows that at least 5.3% of the over one million migrants who have lodged first time asylum application in the EU in 2016 were unaccompanied children in need of international protection and that the numbers are constantly rising. In spite of this alarming trend, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) still suffer in Europe – particularly in Greece and Italy – seriously inadequate protection, inappropriate services to meet their needs and interests, as well as slow and poor procedures to process their files and ensure them asylum status, family reunification, or relocation, according to their needs. Such dysfunctionalities often encourage young migrants to escape the system and continue their journey relying on smugglers, with the additional risk of becoming victims of abuse and exploitation. The European Union should overcome the Member States’ increasing lack of solidarity and expand the EU regular migration package, starting from the family reunification procedures.