Outcome of the Lost in Migration Conference Local Hubs 2021

As a result of local hubs organised in the context of the Lost in Migration conference, run by Missing Children Europe and The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the participants have come up with a Paper on the Key Challenges faced by children in migration.

The conference brought together young newcomers, professionals, and European policy makers to discuss migration-related issues that affect children and young people. Seven local hubs took place across Europe where young people had the opportunity to share their stories and challenges.

The Project

Under the input of young people themselves, the participants organised 6 Local Hubs in different cities across 5 European countries (Germany, Italy, Malta, Belgium and Greece).

The starting point of each work assumes that children in migration might go missing in two main ways. On one hand, they might disengage themselves from services specifically for them. on the other hand, some of them are victims of (re)trafficking.

Why they leave the services for them? What are their experiences?

The hubs tried to find answers to such questions, and set out the main Key Challenges.

Key Challenges of Children in Migration

Key Challenge 1: Access to quality reception services

The reception services seem to be overall inadequate. This includes issues about the type and quality of accommodation, living conditions, available services, communication between authorities and social workers, and widespread violence.

Key Challenge 2: Documentation and regulations

Documentation plays an important role in the decision to select the country and city of destination. In some cases the shelters’ staff itself is not well informed about the appropriate legal procedures for the regularisation of migrant young people.

Key Challenge 3: Asylum and family reunification procedures

The asylum procedure is too long, and makes it difficult to reach family reunification.

Key Challenge 4: Access to information

The information children have at their disposal play an important role both in the decision-making process to leave the reception services and in deciding which country to move to. The main sources of information are smugglers, peers, parents and family members, and sometimes the internet or social media.

Key Challenge 5: Guardianship

Guardians are essential to ensure that young peoples’s voices are heard, but unfortunately trainings for guardians were delayed due to COVID-19. Other problems that arose are: cultural differences, expectations from each other, and too many minors to look after.

Key Challenge 6: Access to education, work and training

Scarse access to education and working or training opportunities is another issue. Often migrant minors are simply not allowed to work in a specific country due to governmental rules. This determines that such young people often choose to leave the country and its education system to move to another one, where they can work and earn money.

Key Challenge 7: Transition to adulthood

When turning legally adults, migrant young people loose the access to some services, like accommodation and support. This often lead them into homelessness and trying to make money on the street to survive.

Key Challenge 8: Being seen and heard

The opportunities for young migrants to share their experiences and be involved in decisions made by authorities and policymakers about their lives are limited.

Key Challenge 9: Investigation into missing children

Find out what happened to missing people is hard. Often families remain without answers.