In this podcast, Gert Westerveen discusses the anxiety felt by unaccompanied and refugee children as their 18th birthday approaches.
“It is is generally agreed that separated children or unaccompanied minors are vulnerable and systems are put in place to take care of them,” says the Strasbourg representative of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
“Once you are 18 a lot of that extra support disappears and that may lead to problematic issues.”
Westerveen adds that in the “worst case scenario” 18 year old migrants could be left homeless, jobless and with an uncertain grasp of the national language.
Tomorrow, at a workshop in Paris, the UNHCR and the Council of Europe will launch a report discussing ‘European state practice regarding transition to adulthood of unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking and refugee children.’
The report focusses on the safeguards that unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children lose when they reach the age of adulthood and the impact on them of this critical change.