Remove child migrants from detention centres – UNHCR

The UNHCR has appealed to all authorities to end the detention of children of children for immigration purposes. It appealed also to ensure early identification of asylum-seeking unaccompanied and separated children and recommended their integration within national child protection systems, including through the use of guardianship systems.

These recommendations were part of a 13-point set of recommendations made by the UNHCR in a report entitled ‘Desperate Journeys: Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe’s borders, January-December 2018’ . The report, paints a damning picture of the reception of desperation at the hands of insensitivity and is a shocking testimonial to comfortable complacency in the face of hopelessness, fear and misery.

Read Also: An average of six deaths every day in the Mediterranean – UNHCR

 The report recommends the setting up of a regional mechanism to strengthen rescue at sea, disembarkation and processing, as well as the lifting of restrictions on NGOs.  UNHCR recommends the urgent need to establish a coordinated and predictable regional mechanism to strengthen rescue at sea, especially with regard to disembarkations and subsequent processing. It emphasises the need to enhance search and rescue capacity in the central Mediterranean, including by removing restrictions on NGOs.

Other recommendations include:

  • Urge the Libyan authorities to end the arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants intercepted or rescued at sea; to release the most vulnerable individuals to the community as per the 2017 arrangements; and to amend Law 19 of 2010, which foresees hard labour as a sentence for irregular entry providing a legal basis for the exploitation of refugees and migrants;

Access to territory and asylum procedures

  • Strengthen identification of those with international protection needs at borders and provide access to asylum procedures, including for people seeking asylum who arrived irregularly, as well as end push-back practices.
  • Make use of accelerated and simplified asylum procedures in case of mixed movements to quickly determine who is in need of international protection and requires integration support, and who is not and thus can be channelled into return procedures;
  • Facilitate timely returns, in safety and dignity, of those found not to be in need of international protection or with no compelling humanitarian needs following a fair and efficient procedure;

Protection of children

  • End the detention of children for immigration purposes and ensure early identification of asylum-seeking unaccompanied and separated children and their integration within national child protection systems, including through the use of guardianship systems.
  • Enhance the availability of accessible information to children on their rights, available services, and asylum processes, and speed up family reunification procedures for children;

Onward movement

  • Increase solidarity and support for countries within the region and along key migration routes in order to strengthen access to protection where refugees are located and thus reduce the need for dangerous irregular journeys.
  • Such solidarity and support should include a mechanism to relocate asylum-seekers from EU member states receiving a disproportionate number of asylum claims to other EU countries as part of the reform of the Dublin Regulation, as well as help strengthening asylum systems in the Western Balkans along with the primary countries of initial arrival in Europe, including as a means of contributing to reducing irregular onward movement;
  • Ensure efficient and quality family reunion procedures for refugees who have arrived in the EU and have family in other EU countries, which could address one of the main causes of irregular onward movement, including for children;

Access to safe and legal pathways

  • Enhance access to safe and legal pathways by further increasing resettlement pledges, including for people evacuated from Libya, taking steps to make family reunification with all beneficiaries of international protection fully accessible by removing practical and legal obstacles, and promoting complementary pathways of admission including community-based sponsorship programmes, scholarship programmes and labour mobility schemes;

Protection against dangers

  • Strengthen the timely identification of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, including male and child survivors, and ensure their referral to adequate multi-sectoral services;
  • Enhance efforts, including cross-border cooperation and information sharing, to bring the perpetrators of crimes against refugees and migrants, including traffickers and those involved in kidnappings for ransom, to justice.