What Rights and Realities at 18?
Regional seminar to develop inter-sectorial cooperation in assisting
refugees and asylum-seekers in transition to adulthood.
2-3 November 2015
European Youth Centre Budapest, Hungary
Call for Participants
Policies and practices in Council of Europe member states governing the transition to adulthood for unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking and refugee children have been identified as a major concern by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Youth Department and the UNHCR.
The Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons presented the report ‘Migrant Children: What Rights at 18?’in March 2014. In May that year the Parliamentary Assembly endorsed the report and adopted during their plenary session the resolution 1996 (2014)under the same title.
Work on the report and resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly has been supported by the efforts of the Youth Sector of the Council of Europe and the UNHCR for the rights of Young Refugees and Asylum-seekers in Europe since 2006. The first joint seminar ‘Being a Young Refugee in Europe Today’ from 5 to 12 December 2006 at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg contributed to the establishment of the European Youth Network of Young refugees and Asylum-seekers ‘Voices of Young Refugees Europe’ (VYRE). Various seminars and training courses followed.
From 2 to 4 March 2010, the two organisations held a seminar on working with young refugees and the ways forward, which aimed at developing a common approach for promoting young refugees within the agenda of the Council of Europe. That meeting underlined, amongst other things, the need to "recognise young refugees, asylum seekers and other youths in need of humanitarian protection aged 18-30 years old as a group with specific needs within European society".
In 2011 and 2012 the Youth Department organised two consultative meetings on the ‘challenges faced by young refugees and asylum seekers in accessing their social rights and their integration, while in transition to adulthood’. Shared experiences in those meetings made it very clear that policies addressing the needs of refugees and asylum seeking children do not correlate with other refugees and asylum-seekers policies in a given country. The challenges of unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children are generally acknowledged and national policies are in line with international treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Young Refugees and Asylum seekers between 18 and 25 are however not acknowledged as a group with specific needs and the transition from one legal regime to the other can be particularly harsh.
The Council of Europe Youth Sector and the UNHCR Representation to the European Institutions in Strasbourg conducted in 2014 a field study on European State practice regarding transition to adulthood of unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking and refugee children. The study provides four clear examples of the existing challenges State agencies, NGO’s and young refugees and asylum-seekers are confronted with. The identified challenges lead to major anxieties among young refugees and asylum-seekers and to the deterioration of their living situation and human and social rights. The lack of access to decent housing, education and/or employment prevents them from acquiring (financial) independence and exposes them to the risks of falling victim to criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and trafficking in human beings. The problem is European wide but in each country different practices, some successful, some detrimental to the well-being of young refugees and asylum-seekers, have evolved.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly report ‘What Rights at 18?’ and the field study of the Youth Department and UNHCR have identified areas of particular concern that should be addressed.
- Clear and transparent information about the consequences of reaching the age of adulthood should be provided, in particular regarding the rights and responsibilities they will have after that age.
- Special guarantees in the asylum procedures for unaccompanied and separated children should be extended after reaching the age of adulthood to ensure the procedure of submission and examination of the claim is not undermined.
- Age assessment should be conducted following clear procedure. The young asylum-seekers need to understand the procedure and consent to it. The results of the assessment should be adopted by all state agencies the child is in contact with.
- Administrative procedures should be harmonised between agencies for young asylum-seekers and refugees in transition to adulthood. The harmonisation should ensure that unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children in transition to adulthood can:
- Complete their educational degree after turning eighteen.
- Have access to appropriate accommodation
- Have access to appropriate support and counselling to access decent employment including traineeships.
- Have access to health care
- Family reunification procedures that started before reaching adulthood should be completed.
The proposed regional seminar ‘What Rights and Realities at 18?’ provides an opportunity to reflect on the findings of the field study and see how the recommendations of resolution 1996 (2014) could be implemented together with state agencies, NGO’s young refugees and asylum-seekers. The meeting will help develop inter-sectorial cooperation at national and regional level and strengthen good practices that assist unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children in transition to adulthood in Central Europe.
Profile of participants
The regional seminar will invite representatives of state agencies, representative of NGO’s and young refugees and asylum-seekers from Central Europe who are:
- working on issues effecting unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children in transition to adulthood.
- committed to seek cooperation with other stakeholders working for unaccompanied and separated refugee and asylum-seeking children in transition to adulthood
- in a position to disseminate the outcomes of the seminar among the colleagues in their organisation, agencies and networks and other stakeholders.
- available for the full duration of the 2 day seminar 2-3 November 2015.
The regional seminar will also be attended by representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assemble and Youth Department and the UNHCR representation to the European Institutions in Strasbourg, their regional office in Central Europe and UNHCR national offices.
Procedure for applications
All those interested to attend the regional seminar and that fit the profile of participants should complete the application form attached to this call and return it to Menno Ettema at firstname.lastname@example.org by 18 September 2015.
Applicants will be informed about the decision concerning their application by 30 September.
Further information regarding the regional seminar contact Menno Ettema, Youth Department of the Council of Europe at: email@example.com. Or William Ejalu, UNHCR Regional Representation to Central Europe at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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