A comparative study of some European countries´ practices and experiences in tracing the parents or caregivers of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers
This report is a study of different European countries´ practices and experiences in tracing the parents or other caregivers of separated minor asylum seekers. The term "unaccompanied minor asylum seekers" (UMAs) refers to children under the age of 18 who are separated from their caregivers, and who apply for asylum in a foreign country. The increase in the numbers of UMAs arriving in Europe from 2000-2003, along with an understanding of UMAs as particularly vulnerable, formed the point of departure for the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration to initiate this study.
Our main source of data has been an electronic, web-based survey. The questionnaire was sent to Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. None of these countries have a separate tracing unit within the organization responsible for tracing UMAs´ families. All the countries co-operate with NGOs, mostly with the national offices of the Red Cross on an ad hoc basis. Some countries make use of their embassies or other diplomatic missions in the UMAs countries of origin.
Our findings show that tracing work is both difficult and resource-demanding, and the success rate generally low. Furthermore, not all successful family tracing leads to family reunification. In most cases, if the countries do not succeed in their tracing attempts or adequate care is not available in the country of origin or a third country, the minor is given temporary or permanent residence in the receiving country.