The migration crisis has been and still is linked to many human rights concerns. The FRA’s monthly data highlights ongoing problems in Greek hotspots. Large numbers of migrants are stuck on islands and are unable to meet with families. Support for these people is vital. The FRA’s November monthly data document explains that:
“In Greece, the situation in the hotspots is deteriorating, caused by severe overcrowding, delays in preparation for winter and substandard conditions”.
According to the FRA, Greece is far from the only EU country where there are migrant crisis related human rights concerns. It highlights areas for concern in Hungary, Germany, France, Finland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Denmark.
Placing the focus on children, the problem in Greece is further explored in an article written in the Guardian by the European Social Network’s Policy Director, Alfonso Lara Montero. The article draws attention to the large number of unaccompanied migrant children left in these difficult situations. It sheds light on the magnitude of the problem and the suffering these children endure. This month has seen the first one of these children to arrive in the UK however, an article in the Guardian explains the extent to which this boy had experienced trauma during his lengthy wait.
ESN tackled the issue of unaccompanied migrant children head-on in our 'Migrant children and young people, Social inclusion and transition to adulthood seminar held in October in Stockholm. This event gathered people working in social services from all over Europe and enabled fruitful discussions on topics such as reception, support and protection.
Rights of the child: A deeper understanding
The FRA has sought to bring clarity to the rights of the child across the EU. The organisation has begun recording data and highlighting the differences between EU countries on topics such the legal age to acquire identification documents and the legal voting age. For example, the age at which someone can buy and drink alcohol in a range of EU countries is presented in both a map and a table, alongside facts which provide context. Next year the FRA plans to build on this data by addressing the topics of asylum and migration. It will also provide information on LGBTI issues, the digital world, social and economic rights and access to justice. Such work has great value as it enables a deeper understanding of the disparity across the EU in how children are treated and the ages at which they can make choices for themselves.
At the European level changes regarding asylum are being initiated. On the 11November, MEP’s chose to open discussions over the Dublin system with the Council. According to a European Parliament press release, this law controls which EU country must manage asylum applications. The press release summaries some of the suggested changes as:
- “Country of entry no longer automatically responsible for processing asylum applications.
- All EU countries should accept their fair share of responsibility for hosting asylum seekers.
- Those that refuse could lose EU funds.”
Adapting these rules could therefore, have a large impact on the way in which country asylum applications are managed. This could make a significant difference in the long-term, but prompt action must be taken to offer relief to migrants who are currently waiting in challenging environments.
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 20 November 2017, Minimum age: Balancing child protection and participation
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, November 2017, Mapping minimum age requirements concerning the rights of the child in the EU
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, November 2017, Monthly data collection: November 2017
- European Parliament, 15 November 2017, Asylum: Plenary to vote on negotiating mandate to reform Dublin rules
- European Parliament, 16 November 2017, EP ready to start talks with EU governments on overhaul of Dublin system
- ESN, 23 August 2016, 'The Guardian' publishes an article by ESN on unaccompanied children
- The Guardian, 25 October 2017, Thousands of unaccompanied children in Greek island camps need help
- The Guardian, 18 November 2017, First child refugee from Greek camps comes to UK
- LinkedIn, 8 September 2017, Many unaccompanied migrant children are still left without guardians