Engaging migrant communities in the promotion of the rights of the child


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By the end of this module you will be able to:

Describe the status of children in migration in Europe, and more specifically in the partner countries -namely, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, France- based on updated data





According to UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM, in 2020, 16.750 children arrived in Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta. Of these, 10.343 (62%) were unaccompanied or separated children (UASC). It is noted that child arrivals decreased by 50% in 2020 compared to 2019 (33.200).

In November and December 2020, IOM interviewed 601 migrants and refugees who arrived by sea in Italy and Spain. In particular, of the 68 interviews with children 14 to 17 years old, 64 were conducted in Italy and only four in Spain. Of the children interviewed, 46% originated from countries in West Africa, followed by South Asia, North Africa and the East and Horn of Africa. Most children reported to have travelled alone (87%). Some 43% of children interviewed cited economic reasons as the primary motivation for leaving their country of origin. Other reasons mentioned were: the limited access to basic services, being subject to or threatened with personal violence and the presence of conflict or war in their country of origin. Among the reasons related to safety and security, children mentioned violent family disputes as well as the lack of freedom of expression or democracy (UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, 2020).


Greece, as one of the major entry points into Europe for refugees and migrants, has received over a million individuals since January 2015, over one third of whom are children. It is estimated that 44.500 refugee and migrant children are currently in Greece (UNICEF Greece, 2021). According to latest data of the UNHCR, 41.1% of the refugee/ migrant people coming to Greece are men, 23.6% are women and 35.4% are children (data until January 2020); in 2021 there were 5,124 new arrivals in total (data until 22 August 2021) (UNHCR, 2021). Furthermore, according to the National Centre for Social Solidarity (“EKKA”), the administrative body responsible to keep a record of unaccompanied minors, 2.738 unaccompanied children (UC) are currently living in Greece. 92,1% are boys and 7,9% are girls.


According to the statistics of the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs, by 2017 there were 24.105 refugee and migrant children residing in Cyprus. In addition, taking into consideration the Asylum Service Statistics, Cyprus is currently hosting around 383 UAMs, mostly from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan.


Along with Cyprus, Greece and Spain, Italy is one of the main arrival countries from the routes towards the Mediterranean. Since 2014, Italy has received over 700.000 individuals, among them, 10% are migrant and refugee children (UNICEF, 2021). Data on unaccompanied minors indicate that 9.131 children are present in the country (on August 31, 2021) (MLPS, 2021).


In 2021, 121.554 requests (including minors) were made at the one-stop asylum application desk. This represents an increase of 30,3% compared to 2019. The foreign population living in France is about 5,1 million people i.e. 7,6% of the total population. In 2019, migrant children represented 12% of the total migrant population.


Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali (MLPS) (2021), Report Mensile minori stranieri non accompagnati (MSNA) in Italia. Accessed on 10.10.2022 from: https://www.lavoro.gov.it/temi-e-priorita/immigrazione/focus-on/minori-stranieri/Documents/Report-MSNA-mese-agosto-2021.pdf


UNHCR (2022), Operational Data Portal. Refugee Situations. Greece. Accessed on 25.08.2021 from: http://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean/location/5179#_ga=2.35338470.61954890.1629897456-2133456280.1620893875


UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM (2020), Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe Accompanied, Unaccompanied and Separated. Overview of Trends January to December 2020. Accessed on 10.10.2022 from: https://www.unhcr.org/cy/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/07/UNHCR_UNICEF_IOM_Refugee_Migrant_Children_Europe_Jan-Dec_2020.pdf


UNICEF Greece, Refugee and Migrant Children. Accessed on 25.08.2021 from:  https://www.unicef.org/greece/%CF%80%CE%B1%CE%B9%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%AC-.%CF%80%CF%81%CF%8C%CF%83%CF%86%CF%85%CE%B3%CE%B5%CF%82-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CE%B9-%CE%BC%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%AC%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%82


UNICEF Italy (2021), Minori migranti e rifugiati. Accessed on 10.10.2022 from: https://www.unicef.it/minori-migranti-rifugiati/