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Unaccompanied minors in the EU – Lords inquiry

The House of Lords Home Affairs EU Sub-Committee is today launching an inquiry on the issue of unaccompanied minors in the EU, as the refugee crisis across Europe continues. Unaccompanied minors are migrant children below the age of 18 from non-EU countries who are not accompanied by a parent or customary guardian. They are therefore considered to be particularly vulnerable and in need of special protection and care.

The Committee would welcome written evidence on this topic, which should be received no later than 10 March 2016.

The inquiry aims to investigate a number of areas including:

  • the nature and scale of the problems facing unaccompanied minors;
  • whether EU provisions translate into clear national obligations for Member States;
  • the achievements of the 2010–2014 Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors;
  • remaining gaps in law and policy; and
  • options for further cooperation among EU Member States.

Chairman of the Committee, Baroness Prashar, said:

"In September last year, the OECD reported a rapid rise in the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe. Eurostat data show that over 24,000 such children sought asylum in 2014, when the EU's previous Action Plan came to an end.

"A growing number of unaccompanied minors go missing from care, and there appears to be a link between these disappearances and activities such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation and organised crime.

"The plight of unaccompanied minors is being overlooked in the face of the unabating refugee crisis. Much effort has been expended since the Commission's publication of its Agenda on Migration to deal with the overall crisis. But strikingly little progress appears to have been made to renew the Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors.

"We want to examine the issue of unaccompanied minors, and EU policy in this area, to encourage debate and official action. We would welcome anyone who has experience or interest in this area to contribute to our inquiry."

Other questions the Committee is seeking to answer include:

  • Who are these children, where are they from and how have they entered the EU? Are there any reliable data to answer these questions? What implications do these factors have for policy?
  • What are the key challenges that unaccompanied minors face?
  • What are the implications for these children in the UK, given the government's decision to resettle children directly from Syria, but not those already in Europe?
  • Are existing EU measures for unaccompanied minors effective? What role do EU Agencies play in implementing these measures?
  • Should there be another EU Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors?

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