Unaccompanied refugee minors in Finland – Challenges and good practices in a Nordic context
The number of unaccompanied or separated refugee children is on the rise worldwide. Almost 13,000 asylum applications were submitted by unaccompanied minors in the EU-countries in 2013. Finland received less than 200 applications, while 3850 applications were submitted in Sweden. Most of the unaccompanied minors come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and other African countries.
On the one hand, these asylum seekers are children and thus should be treated as migrants in a vulnerable situation requiring special care according to their needs, but on the other hand, the receiving countries seek to limit the number of asylum seekers, including minors. Attempts have been made to harmonize policies and procedures in Europe, but they still vary significantly between EU-countries.
This research shows that all Nordic countries have fairly well functioning reception systems based on the principle of the best interest of the child, but there are problems: fragmented organizational structures with insufficient cooperation between different administrative sectors and problems with placing unaccompanied children in municipalities which often are unwilling to receive them. There are shortcomings in providing adequate language training and education, in access to health care, especially mental health services and in following up adolescents coming of age with supporting measures. The case of Finland is highlighted by interviews with caretakers, teachers, administration professionals and former unaccompanied minors.
The project has been funded by the European Refugee Fund.
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ISBN 978-952-5889-88-8 (printed)
ISBN 978-952-5889-89-5 (PDF)
Migration Studies – C26
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