January 2015 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPC update Jan 2015The January 2015 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre, a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. These focussed analyses have the aim of supporting the advocacy work being done by organisations engaged in EPIM by providing information on a range of recent EU-level policy-making, legislation and jurisprudence relevant to EPIM’s three focus areas:

(1) Asylum seekers
(2) Undocumented Migrants
(3) Equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the terrorist attacks at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and its possible consequences for EU policies in the field of migration, border controls and cooperation with third countries.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The latest UNHCR report on worrying numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people;
  • A selection of ECJ judgments in the field of asylum and undocumented migrants;
  • ECRE’s recommendations for the transposition of EU Recast Asylum Procedures Directive;
  • The EU response to the smuggling of migrants in Europe;
  • The final report of the joint police operation Mos Maiorum, leaked by the NGO StateWatch;
  • Eurostat statistics on the acquisition of EU citizenship;
  • and upcoming events at EU level.
News from the

CIR presents report “Access to Protection: Bridges, not Walls”

On 28 October 2014, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR) and ECRE organised a conference on access to the European territory and to asylum procedures for people fleeing war and persecution. It was the final event of the EPIM-funded project “Access to Protection: a Human Right”, led by CIR in partnership with Hungarian Helsinki Committee, The People for Change Foundation, Greek Refugee Council, Pro Asyl, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado, Portuguese Council for Refugees. The project aimed at promoting conformity of national and EU policies and practices to the European and international human rights obligations.

CIRKey outcome of the project is the report “Access to Protection: Bridges, not Walls”, which analyses the main EU legal instruments and practices in the field of migration and asylum, with a particular focus on acts adopted subsequent to the ECHR case Hirsi Jamaa and others vs. Italy. The findings of the report provided the basis of discussion in the conference, which approached the issue of access to protection in Europe at policy level, especially in the light of the current Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, from a legal and a Member State specific perspective.

Speakers of the conference included representatives of the Italian Navy, the EU Border Agency Frontex, UNHCR, the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, ECRE and CIR.

The conference focus and interventions were particularly timely in light of the launch of the Frontex mission ‘Triton’. As a result, the event received high media coverage, with statements being published in The Guardian as well as broadcasted by the BBC.

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EPIM-EPC Restrictive Migration Policies Conference

Restrictive migration policies and the responsibility of the media: the impact on undocumented migrants.
The event took place on Tuesday, 6 December 2011, 09.30-17.00 at the Stanhope Hotel, Rue du Commerce 9, B-1000 Brussels.

The European Policy Centre and the European Programme for Integration and Migration jointly held a high level conference which explored the rights of migrants- particularly those who are undocumented, and the role of the media in the migration and integration debate.

In this year of austerity and high unemployment in many member states, the debate in Europe on immigration policy is becoming more focused on how to restrict irregular migration and what to do about undocumented migrants. But what impact do restrictive migration policies have on migrants? What can EU policy-makers do to address the complex problems associated with undocumented migration in Member States, be it removing obstacles to fundamental rights, designing new and better policies to protect the borders or providing more support to local authorities working everyday with these issues? And is the media culpable in spreading a view of so-called “illegal” migrants as those who take advantage of public benefits, or does it simply report on real stories?

Marta Cygan, Director for Immigration and Asylum in DG Home Affairs in the European Commission, opened the conference with a keynote speech while Antonio Vitorino, the EU’s first Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, wrapped up what was a lively day of discussions. In between, a panel of distinguished Members of the European Parliament, each representing one of the main political groupings, was asked to present their views, including Kinga Göncz MEP (S&D), Judith Sargentini MEP (Greens),  and Sajjad Karim (ECR). Media practitioners and civil society representatives also participated, including Don Flynn from Migrant Rights Network and the European Network Against Racism, Marc Janssen of Belgium’s Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel and Anke Schuster (IOM). The conference was moderated by Yves Pascouau, EPC Senior Policy Analyst, and Jacki Davis, EPC Senior Advisor.


Interview with Kinga Göncz MEP (S&D) 


Interview with Sajjad Karim (ECR)


Interview with Judith Sargentini MEP (Greens)

See the programme here and read the report of the event here.

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Evaluation Results Available: Engagement-based Alternatives to Detention in Europe

Report cover page

EPIM has commissioned a first independent evaluation report on the three Alternatives to Detention pilot projects it funds in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland. These pilot projects provide holistic case management as engagement-based alternatives to confinement-focused migration control measures such as immigration detention. The work is supported by the European Alternatives to Detention Network.

In the context of increased pressure across Europe to detain migrants, the evaluation provides evidence that engagement-based case management can be effective in helping migrants to work towards resolving their cases in the community:

• 97% of migrants participating in the pilot projects stayed to cooperate with case management, including in countries with high overall rates of secondary movement
• Holistic case management provided in the pilots had a positive impact towards case resolution in 88% of cases
• Community-based support led to improved coping and well-being for 100% of clients

The report also provides insight into how, practically, a case management pilot project can be set up, and the challenges faced, which can support further pilots for evidence-building.

Detailed results can be found in the evaluation report and the accompanying briefing paper.

News from the

New call for proposals in Italy: Never Alone, Towards life autonomy for children and youth on the move who arrive in Italy alone

The Italian Foundations Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione CON IL SUD, Enel Cuore, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Fondazione Peppino Vismara have published the 2018 call for proposals “NEVER ALONE: Towards life autonomy for foreign children and young people who arrive in Italy alone”. This fund in Italy is part of the EPIM Sub-Fund on long-term prospects and protection of children and youth on the move in Europe. The deadline for applications is 7 September 2018.

More information on the details of the call for proposals can be found on the website of the Never Alone Fund (in Italian and in English) and in short below:

This call for proposals focuses on the promotion of multidimensional actions for the support of work and life autonomy of both boys and girls aged 15 and 21 years who have arrived in Italy alone. The call for proposals is meant to support a limited number of projects in Italy that support young people in the delicate phase of transition between childhood and adulthood.

The projects are expected to cover the following areas of interest:

  • coaching services to job placement;
  • coaching services to social and relational inclusion.

Furthermore, these projects may include some complementary interventions to cover other areas than the two mentioned above, with a view to facilitating:

  • housing autonomy;
  • linguistic and cultural inclusion.

The call for proposals is open to public-private partnerships consisting of at least three non-profit entities with a proven track record in terms of reception and inclusion of children on the move and/or migrants/asylum-seekers.

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Call for experts – Research on funding dedicated to migrant inclusion under the European Social Fund (ESF)

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) is looking for (an) expert(s) to conduct a piece of research on funding dedicated to migrant inclusion and social cohesion under the European Social Fund (ESF).

This research will be conducted in the context of EPIM’s Thematic Fund on “Building inclusive European societies”. With this Fund, EPIM supports civil society organisations in promoting whole-of-society approaches to migrant inclusion in policies, funding and practices to enhance social cohesion among migrants and other members of the societies they are part of.

The research will provide an overview and analysis of funding dedicated to migrant inclusion disbursed under the European Social Fund. Findings should offer support to civil society organisations active in advising EU funding for migrant inclusion in the context of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations and its follow-up.

More information about this assignment can be found here. Interested applicants are invited to submit:

  • A short proposal (1-2 pages) outlining the methodology for compiling the report, an initial list of literature/documents to review and key stakeholders to approach for interviews, together with a timetable;
  • An indicative budget in Euro stating the consultant’s daily rate and indicating the number of days needed for this work. Where applicable, VAT should be budgeted.
  • A CV.

Deadline for applications is 19 August 2018, 23:59 CET.

 

 

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Applications are now open for “Rethinking inclusion”

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) has partnered with Impact Hub to identify socially innovative solutions (project, process, service, practice) located in an EU, EFTA or Western Balkan country that address inclusion challenges that concern young migrant men (around 18-35 years old) and migrant women with a whole-of-society approach. With this call, EPIM hopes to support their impact assessment and scalability in a way that can inform European inclusion policies, funding and practice.

Up to 20 shortlisted solutions will participate in a case study analysis where social impact experts will take a closer look at the impact of the solution as well as possible scaling opportunities. Up to 8 solutions will be selected to be matched with stakeholders interested in adapting the solution in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Portugal or Sweden. Selected pairs will be awarded with capacity support grants of up to 30,000 EUR to prepare for the scaling/transfer of the solution.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION

1. Click on “Login/Register” to create an account on www.socialchallenges.eu.
2. In the list of cities, select “Bruxelles EPIM”, click on “Get involved” and follow the instructions to create a personal and organisation profile.
3. Click on “Make a Pitch” and complete the application form.

Applicants submitting an application by July 31st, 2018, will receive first feedback and will have their eligibility checked, giving them the possibility to improve their application based on the feedback until the final deadline of September 15th, 2018, 23:59 CET.

You will find more information on www.socialchallenges.eu and in the following documents:

  • EPIM Call for Expressions of Interest (PDF)
  • Guidelines for the submission of an expression of interest (PDF)
  • Application Form (WORD)

Have you implemented an innovative solution that contributes to rethink migrant inclusion in Europe? Read more about this call and share your solution on www.socialchallenges.eu.

Have you heard about an inspiring solution? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and help us spread the word!

Please refer any question you may have about this call for expressions of interest to: rethinking-inclusion@socialchallenges.eu.

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“Rethinking Inclusion”, a call for interest to unlock innovative solutions for migrant inclusion in Europe

EPIM - Website Homepage LEARN MORE - 721 × 412The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) has partnered with Impact Hub to identify socially innovative solutions (project, process, service, practice) located in an EU, EFTA or Western Balkan country that address inclusion challenges that concern young migrant men (around 18-35 years old) and migrant women with a whole-of-society approach. With this call, EPIM hopes to support their impact assessment and scalability in a way that can inform European inclusion policies, funding and practice.

Up to 20 shortlisted solutions will participate in a case study analysis where social impact experts will take a closer look at the essence and impact of the solution as well as possible scaling opportunities. Up to 8 solutions will be selected to be matched with stakeholders interested in adapting the solution in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Portugal or Sweden. Selected pairs will be awarded with capacity support grants of up to 30,000 EUR to prepare for the scaling/transfer of the solution.

How and when to apply

From 15 June to 15 July, learn more about the call and start preparing your application! Click on “Login/Register” to create an account on www.socialchallenges.eu to receive regular updates about the call. In the list of cities, select “Bruxelles EPIM”, click on “Get involved” and follow the instructions. Download the application package and start preparing your submission.

From 16 July to 15 September, 23:59 CET, submit your application! Applicants submitting an application by July 31st, 2018, will receive first feedback and will have their eligibility checked, giving them the possibility to improve their application based on the feedback until the final deadline of September 15th, 2018.

You will find more information on www.socialchallenges.eu and in the following documents:

  • EPIM Call for Expressions of Interest (PDF)
  • Guidelines for the submission of an expression of interest (PDF)
  • Application Form (WORD)

Have you implemented an innovative solution that contributes to rethink migrant inclusion in Europe? Read more about this call and share your solution on www.socialchallenges.eu.

Have you heard about an inspiring solution? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and help us spread the word!

Please refer any question you may have about this call for expressions of interest to: rethinking-inclusion@socialchallenges.eu.

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Telling Europe’s migration stories: Framing messages around solutions

In March 2018, EPIM (European Programme for Integration and Migration) together wit SCI (The Social Change Initiative), brought together key actors in the field of migration in Europe to explore communications around migration today.

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How can we tell Europe’s migration stories differently? How can we connect with our audience more effectively, so that our messages on migration resonate in the public debate?
In setting the scene, speakers and participants acknowledged the need to understand the current context in Europe, where migration is consistently used as a wedge issue in politics and within the public discourse. Speakers and participants emphasised the need for human rights communication not to buy into this rhetoric or be pushed into a defensive mode but to focus instead on hope and opportunities connected to proposed solutions.
Going forward, together we discussed the need for civil society to better understand who is missing from the conversation and the audiences we are reaching out to, what language can be used to engage them, the importance of listening to them, understanding the diversity of thought and translating this into communications.

_ Day 1 - FULL (Web)

_ Day 2 - FULL (Web)

EPIM Call for Interest – Communications Capacity Development

EPIM seeks to identify civil society organisations working on migration with a Pan-European membership and/or a mandate with Pan-European relevance who are interested in support to make strategic communications an integral part of their overall strategy and day-to-day work.

Across Europe, migration has developed into an issue that ranks among people’s top concerns. The fact that those with outspoken views on immigration dominate the public debate risks leaving politicians with a distorted image of public support or rejection of migration policies. Voices of people in support of, or with more nuanced views on migration have been underrepresented in public discourses despite representing the majority.

EPIM aims to support civil society organisations in raising their communications profile in order to contribute to more nuanced political and public discourses as well as policy-making on migration. This call for expressions of interest is issued to help EPIM identify a number of committed organisations to be invited to develop a communications capacity development plan in a second step. Finally, a number of the submitted development plans will be awarded with a grant for implementation with potential for annual renewal over a timeframe of up to three years.

The deadline for submitting an expression of interest at https://applications.nef-europe.org/ is 26 March 2018.

Please consult the following documents if you consider a submission:

  • EPIM Call for expression of interest (PDF)
  • DOC 1: Guidelines for the submission of an expression of interest (PDF)
News from the

The February 2018 edition of the Policy Update is now available

EPIM Policy Update December 2017The February 2018 Edition of the EPIM Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move; (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights, and 5) Building inclusive European societies.

This edition’s special focus looks at the living conditions in Greek hotspots with the onset of winter. Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Disagreement over relocation;
  • Bulgarian Presidency´s approach to migration;
  • Disagreement over relocation;
  • An update on progress made in the reform of the Common European Asylum System;
  • Relevant reports such as Save the Children’s report on protecting migrant and refugee children´s rights.

 

 

EPIM Call for Proposals on advising long-term EU funding on migrant inclusion and community cohesion

Over the years, civil society organisations across Europe have played a critical role in enhancing migrant inclusion and community cohesion. Little inspiration has been drawn so far from many (new) initiatives for the design of EU and national policies and funding on migrant inclusion. The current policy context offers several opportunities for engagement on this topic at the EU as well as national levels (i.e. AMIF mid-term review, negotiations of the post-2020 EU Multiannual Financial Framework) and more are expected to open over the coming years.

Civil society’s experience with successful and promising inclusion policy and practices across Europe, as well as their experience with EU funding, can support these processes with valuable input for more efficient and impactful EU funding.With this call for proposals, EPIM will support (a) Pan-European civil society partnership(s) to:

  • become a critical actor that advises the long-term financial programming, governance and practical implementation of EU funding for migrant integration and community cohesion as well as its translation at the national level, in particular in the context of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations;
  • engage with EU and national decision-makers in evidence-based and solutions-oriented discussions (i.e. by referring to existing good practices);
  • ensure that funding priorities and their translation into practice are coherent, coordinated, needs-based, migrant-focused and socially impactful and shift from top-down to whole-of-community approaches to migrant inclusion that foster community cohesion.

Projects can run for a timeframe of up to 24 months starting in May 2018. Projects can be proposed for a grant of up to 200,000 EUR to be awarded under this call for proposals.

Project proposals can be submitted online at  https://applications.nef-europe.org/ until 16 March 2018. You will find more information on how to apply in the following documents:

  • EPIM Call for proposals (PDF)
  • DOC 1: Guidelines for the submission of a project proposal (PDF)
  • DOC 2: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Please refer any questions you might have to EPIM Programme Manager, Sophie Ngo-Diep, at sophie.ngo-diep@epim.info.

News from the ,

New website for the Italian fund under EPIM’s Sub-Fund on the long-term prospects and protection of children and youth on the move in Europe

Never alone Italy CP logo

A new website dedicated to “Never Alone, for a possible tomorrow“, the Italian fund under EPIM for the protection, reception and integration of unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Italy, is online: minoristranieri-neveralone.it.

The website contains updated information on the projects selected in the framework of the national call for proposals “Reception and support of foreign unaccompanied minors and young people who arrive in Italy alone”. The projects, launched in April 2017, involve 75 organisations (civil society organisations and public bodies) who advocate and work on the transition of unaccompanied and separated children to adulthood, on strengthening and replicating foster care and volunteer guardianship models, as well as quality reception and care for girls. There are twelve Italian regions involved in the fund: four northern regions, four in the centre and four in the south, with a higher concentration in Sicily where there are more unaccompanied and separated children and youth.

Tha Italian fund is promoted by Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione con il Sud, Enel Cuore, Fondazione  Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Fondazione Peppino Vismara.

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The December 2017 edition of the Policy Update is now available

EPIM Policy Update December 2017The December 2017 Edition of the EPIM Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move; (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights, and 5) Building inclusive European societies.

This edition’s special focus looks at the living conditions in Greek hotspots with the onset of winter. Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Developments in the Central Mediterranean and EU relations with Libya;
  • The adoption of an EP position on the reform of the Dublin Regulation;
  • A closer look from CIAI on supporting unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Sicily;
  • Relevant reports such as Save the Children’s report on protecting migrant and refugee children´s rights;
  • Funding opportunities and facts and figures.

 

 

News from the

Pooling funds, pooling strengths: A case study of the European Programme for Integration and Migration

Case-Study-WebsiteWhat does it take for 25 foundations of all types and sizes to collaborate on the most political issue of the day?

This new report explores what made EPIM one of the unmissable actors in the field of integration and migration in Europe – for funders, grantees, and policy-makers alike.

Written in a clear and accessible style, this short case study presents how this collaborative came to be (p. 8), the value it adds for member foundations and the wider community (p. 11), and what made it work (p. 14). It also offers key lessons for anyone wishing to create their own funding collaborative (p. 19).
At NEF, we are very proud to share lessons from one of our most successful collaboratives to date. We hope it inspires readers to start or strengthen their own funding collaboratives.

Read the full case study here.

News from the

The October 2017 edition of the Policy Update is now available

The October 2017 edition of the EPIM Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move, and (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights.

This edition’s special focus looks at the relocation scheme and more specifically at the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the actions of Hungary and Slovakia who voted against the adoption of the mandatory relocation scheme and brought the issue before the ECJ with the aim of having the relocation scheme annulled. As it stands now, the relocation programme, which ran up to 26 September, has seen less than 30,000 individuals relocated in two years. It is to be expected that there will not be a renewal of the scheme that was previously in place. Rather, discussions on how to organize relocation will likely be continued in the context of the reform of the CEAS.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The progress of the EU cooperation with third countries;
  • The mid-term review of the Agenda on Migration and the update of the Schengen Border Code;
  • A closer look from FEANTSA on homelessness among EU citizens living in the UK;
  • Relevant reports such as the Council of Europe’s report on the situation in the Greek hotspots;
  • Funding opportunities and facts and figures.
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EPIM Call for Research Proposals on the reception and inclusion of children and youth on the move in Europe

Never Alone FINAL

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) provides the platform for a sub-fund that supports civil society organisations and public-private partnership projects seeking to address policy and practice issues arising from increasing arrivals of children and youth in Europe, and the struggle for communities to provide adequate protection as well as long-term perspectives for their life in Europe. EPIM currently funds projects in four EU member states (Belgium, Germany, Greece and Italy) that explore new or alternative models of services/care with community-based, child-centred, and individualised approaches.

Different options of service/care models, including institutionalised, family-based or community-based models of care, have emerged over time and been tested in different contexts. However, insights into the long-term effects of these different models have been lagging behind. EPIM seeks to understand and contribute to the knowledge base about the long-term impact, including the social and economic costs, of different service/care models (both traditional and alternative models) on the lives of children and youth, accompanied, separated or unaccompanied, who migrated and are aiming to establish a life in Europe.

As a first step to explore this area of concern, EPIM looks to commission a mapping of existing models and the nature and level of their funding across the Member States of the European Union. As a follow-up, this work should lead to a more in-depth analysis on the impact of selected interventions in a number of countries.

This call is open for everyone to apply. Projects with collaborators, including with civil society organisations, are encouraged. Cross-border partnerships of project implementers are strongly encouraged.

Interested applicants should submit a 4-5 page proposal together with attachments by 18 October 2017 to Fanny Georges (fanny.georges@epim.info).

You can find more information on how to apply in the call for research proposals.

Please refer to Fanny Georges at fanny.georges@epim.info with any questions you might have.

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New MPI Europe publication “Tracing the channels refugees use to seek protection in Europe”

pic-cover-MPI publication_sept2017As European policymakers and advocates increasingly express interest in developing managed, legal alternatives to the dangerous, unauthorized journeys many refugees undertake when searching for protection, there is a pressing need to inform the debate with reliable and comprehensive data—both on how protection seekers currently enter Europe and how new pathways are likely to be used.

Yet as this report explains, it is “nearly impossible” at present to obtain a clear picture of how protection seekers enter Europe and what legal channels are available to them. Still, while incomplete, data from EURODAC, Eurostat, Frontex, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and national databases, suggest several important trends:

  • A plurality, and possibly a majority, of asylum seekers arrive in Europe via unauthorized channels.
  • Refugees who receive protection after filing a spontaneous asylum claim outnumber those granted protection through resettlement or humanitarian admissions about ten to one.
  • In Member States that make such data available, family reunification appears to be as important a channel for legal entry as asylum for individuals in need of protection.

The report recommends that European governments seek agreement on how key humanitarian policies are defined and implemented. Without such common definitions, programs are not only difficult to evaluate, they also risk duplication or a lack of focus that can prevent them from achieving their fundamental aim of establishing safer and more orderly migration routes for the benefit of both protection seekers and the European societies that receive them.

The authors further suggest that governments will need to invest in more detailed data collection and aggregation if they are serious about effectively implementing more legal channels to protection for refugees. No common European dataset exists to document the modes of entry or legal statuses of individual asylum applicants, and few if any Member States systematically report such data at the national level.

This publication was supported by EPIM in the framework of its Sub-Fund on “the reform of the European asylum system”.

The original text of this article can be found on the MPI website.

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July 2017 EPIM Policy Update now available

The July 2017 Edition of the EPIM Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move, and (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the rising tensions over search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean. With an expected increase in the number of people trying to cross to Europe via the Mediterranean routes during the summer, tensions are rising between the various actors that are involved in search and rescue operations at sea. NGOs that are active near the North African coast have come into confrontational situations with the Libyan Coast Guard while far-right groups have attempted to prevent NGO ships from leaving port.  Further straining this already challenging environment, Italy announced that it will not continue to serve as the primary point of entry for rescued migrants, and may deny access to Italian ports for non-Italian vessels if other EU member states do not show more solidarity.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The rights of children on the move which come into greater focus in the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council and the European Commission;
  • Brexit talks and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in EU member states;
  • The CEAS reform talks by the European Parliament;
  • A closer look from Future Worlds Centre on piloting alternatives to detention in Cyprus; and
  • EU funding opportunities, relevant reports and facts and figures.
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EPIM is looking for a Programme Officer to join the team in Brussels

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) is looking for a self-motivated member of a dynamic and young team based in Brussels for the position of Programme Officer. Applications can be submitted by 31 July 2017 and will be reviewed in August.

The position is to be occupied by September/October 2017 and ends in mid-2019 with perspective of a contract renewal. The Programme Officer will be a key point of contact in the field of migration at European level for civil society organisations seeking and receiving EPIM funding and for foundations working with EPIM. The position includes the management of a portfolio of grants in defined thematic areas. The Programme Officer will contribute to the implementation of grant-making, capacity development and the evaluation and monitoring of programmes.

The candidate we look for is self-motivated and values the possibility to contribute to positive societal impact. S/he has knowledge and experience working with civil society organisations, expertise in the (policy) field of migration and integration, and/or skills in multi-actor collaborations. Members of our team should be analytical and strategic, flexible, independent problem solvers, collegial and able to thrive in a dynamic environment.

For more information, please consult the job description which outlines the requirements and steps for applications.

News from the

The role of quality care in encouraging children and youth on the move in Europe to seek support in protected spaces

Conclusions from the workshop held in the framework of the conference “Lost in Migration: Working Together in Protecting Children from Disappearance”, 26-27 January 2017, Malta

The workshop on “The role of quality care in encouraging children and youth on the move in Europe to seek support in protected spaces” was held at the conference “Lost in Migration: Working Together In Protecting Children from Disappearance” organised by Missing Children Europe and the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, on 27 January 2017. The aim of the workshop was for the grantee organisations of the EPIM Sub-fund “Never Alone – Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe” to share their knowledge and exchange ideas in relation to their work with children and youth and to explore how this know-how may translate into policy recommendations for improving the quality of care and hereby working on some of the reasons for children going missing in Europe.

You will find here the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop.

In short, workshop participants argued that making quality care available is a first fundamental step to encourage children on the move to seek support in reception facilities or protective spaces and to stay there. Likewise, an important second consideration is to ensure that children perceive the care offered as of high quality and responsive to their needs, mandate and broader interests is a second one. This requires a commitment of organisations to remain observant of the (shifting) profile, needs and interests of the target group; to continuously review the structures, processes and practices that organisations deploy to pursue their aims; and to draw on a menu of options to adapt organisational approaches and practices.

Organisations could be supported in this process by a more comprehensive and updated data analysis of the profile of the children arriving and the creation of a solid evidence basis as to what care packages to offer to which profile of children in which type of settings.

These conclusions were integrated in policy recommendations that were developed as a result of the conference.

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EPIM announces the award of three grants to civil society organisations under the Intra-EU Mobility Sub-Fund

For the period 2017-2018, EPIM selected three civil society projects aimed to protect mobile EU citizens’ access to rights, namely:

April 2017 EPIM Policy Update now available

The April 2017 Edition of the Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move, and (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the outcomes of the EU-Turkey Statement, one year after it entered into force. Despite being presented as a success in significantly bringing down the number of “irregular arrivals” while providing a narrow framework for an alternative legal channel for the resettlement of Syrian refugees, the EU-Turkey Statement has faced repeated criticisms from many humanitarian and human rights NGOs who argue that the deal does not respect fundamental rights.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Progress report on CEAS and resettlement reforms bythe Justice and Home Affairs Council on 27 March;
  • Commission presents new measures for EU return policy;
  • A closer look from European Council on Refugees and Exiles on the efficiency paradox of Germany’s asylum system;
  • UNHCR statistics on arrivals;
  • Latest numbers for relocation and resettlement.
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No Detention Necessary

Led by Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (Association for Legal Intervention, SIP)

This project explores an alternative to detention based on the Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model of the International Detention Coalition (IDC) in Poland. It involves migrants undergoing return procedures, with a focus on vulnerable groups such as families and victims of violence. The pilot is based around holistic case management offered to 25 people for 2 years, with the objective of minimising absconding and promoting case resolution by exploring opportunities for regularisation as well as encouraging individuals’ engagement with the return process. The project also aims to contribute to the promotion of alternatives and to provide evidence and arguments to extend the scope of alternatives to detention at national and EU level.

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Pilot project on the implementation of alternative measures: the Revised Community Assessment and Placement model in Cyprus

Led by the Cyprus Refugee Council

This project explores an alternative to detention based on the Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model of the International Detention Coalition (IDC), building on research conducted in the context of a previous EPIM-supported project in Cyprus. Case management services are offered to 60 individuals in the process of two years. Additionally, the project puts particular emphasis on the promotion of the use of vulnerability screening tools by Cypriot authorities and frontline decision-makers in order to prevent the use of detention for vulnerable groups.

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Protecting migrants with precarious status: decreasing the use of detention and applying community-based alternatives

Led by Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria, together with Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights (BLHR)

This project aims to contribute to the decrease of the use of detention, to the increased use of community-based alternatives and to successful case resolution for migrants in precarious situations. The four project components are advocacy on four specific objectives related to detention, communications (including through the dedicated website www.detainedinbg.com), legal support for persons in detention and case management. The case management component involves working with 50-60 migrants at risk of detention over the two-year period, with the goal of having them stabilized in the community and engaged with the procedure, until case resolution is achieved. At the same time, the case management component collects evidence that is being used for advocacy at the national and EU level for the application of community-based alternatives to detention. 

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From Theory to Practice: A Network of Alternative to Detention (ATD) Implementers in Europe

Led by the International Detention Coalition (IDC), together with Detention Action and PICUM

The Network of Alternative to Detention Implementers provides a platform at European level to support capacity-building, peer exchange and evidence-based advocacy on alternatives to detention, to contribute to reducing and ending immigration detention in the region. Bringing together implementers of case management-based ATD pilot projects from different national contexts with regional advocacy organisations, the network works to increase the capacity of civil society to develop and implement ATD pilots, to gather and consolidate evidence from the pilots as a foundation for national and EU-level advocacy, and to build momentum and evidence supporting engagement-based alternatives to detention.

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Challenging Deprivation of Liberty and Externalisation as Tools for Migration Management and Advocating for Dignified Reception in the EU

Led by Migreurop

This project addresses the blurred boundaries between detention and reception with a specific focus on hotspots, as well as the externalisation of EU migration and asylum policies through cooperation with third countries. Relying on a combination of documentation, evidence-driven national and EU advocacy, awareness-raising and capacity building, the project aims to foster enhanced transparency and democratic oversight on EU cooperation with third countries, and to reaffirm the primacy of dignified and lawful reception practices.

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The Red Line Project

Led by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC)

This project aims to reduce the unnecessary and unlawful use of detention as a deterrence measure for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants in Europe, with a sub-regional focus on several main entry point states for irregular migration: Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy. The project seeks to reiterate the red line between detention and reception in international law through evidence-based advocacy, strategic communications to EU and international bodies, and the development of civil society´s capacity to address these issues accurately and effectively.

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Boundaries of Liberty: Demarcating reception and detention of asylum seekers

Led by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)

This project is mapping de facto detention policies and practices at national level across 23 European countries with 3 in-depth national case studies in Belgium, France and Germany, through support to the Asylum and information Database (AIDA). It will conduct comparative research on blurred boundaries between reception and detention, analysing the applicable legal frameworks and relevant jurisprudence, as well as their implementation in practice. In addition to a mapping report, the project will also involve 3 in-depth national case studies with focused research on blurred reception / detention boundaries, implemented together with national partners.

Based on the collected evidence from national-level policy and practice, the project seeks to activate accountability mechanisms at the national and European levels and to promote transparency of de facto detention policies as a prerequisite for challenging such policies. This will be done, amongst others, through advocacy at European level as well as communications work.

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Initiative for Children in Migration

This project led by Missing Children Europe together with PICUM, Terre des Hommes, ECRE, Child Circle, EPCAT, Eurochild and SOS Children’s Villages will align migration/asylum and child protection advocacy actors from European and national levels around shared policy recommendations and advocacy opportunities on:

  • the goals and implementation of a comprehensive EU policy on children in migration, enhancing respect of all children in migration and ensuring that child protection plays a central role in EU responses, alongside asylum and immigration;
  • identified issues of concern to migrant children to be addressed by EU and national policies, including quality care and alternatives to detention, children and the EU asylum legislation reform, cross border cooperation, including in relation to missing children, trafficked children and Dublin procedures, and durable solutions and procedural safeguards.

The project will inject crucial and necessary resources into existing informal collaboration among NGOs and IGOs at EU level who have been deeply involved in advocacy work around law and policy concerning children in migration for several years. By developing a common portfolio of EU advocacy papers, meetings and webinars, collating existing expertise, projects and activities, organisations will be more proactive, strategic and impactful.

The project will also allow for national activities in target countries, including the focus countries of EPIM’s sub-fund “Never Alone –Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe”, to support the grantee organisations’ advocacy goals.

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February 2017 EPIM Policy Update now available

The February 2017 Edition of the Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the European asylum system; (3) Children and youth on the move, and (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the plans by EU leaders to close the central Mediterranean route. Since the EU-Turkey Statement, the central Mediterranean route has become the main entry point for maritime arrivals to the EU. In 2016, approximately 181,000 migrants left Libya and travelled to Italy. According to the Maltese Presidency of the European Council, the flow of migrants through the central Mediterranean needs to be stopped at the source. However, it remains to be determined which approach will be taken under future policies and whether the EU-Turkey Statement will be replicated in Libya.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The EU Commission’s recommendation to resume Dublin transfers to Greece;
  • An EU Commission proposal to revise social benefits for mobile EU citizens;
  • Developments in negotiations over CEAS reform proposals;
  • ECJ case law on the exclusion from refugee status;
  • A closer look at the vulnerability assessment in the framework of the asylum procedure in France from Forum Réfugiés-Cosi;
  • UNHCR Statistics on arrivals;
  • UNICEF figures on unaccompanied and separated children who arrived in Italy in 2016.
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EPIM convening workshop and EPIM-supported Missing Children Europe conference

25-27 January 2017, Malta

As part of the “Never Alone –Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe” sub-fund, EPIM supported the conference “Lost in migration: Working together to protect children from disappearance”, organised by Missing Children Europe and the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society on 26-27 January 2017 in Malta. 160 participants from all over Europe discussed the challenges for the protection of children and together came up with operational and policy recommendations which have been sent to EU ministers. The conference was coinciding with the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council taking place that week in Malta, which was attended by the President of Malta and Missing Children Europe who brought the protection challenges and the rights of children to the attention of the ministers.

The event featured high level speakers, including H.E. Maria Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta; Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and President of Missing Children Europe; Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship; and many other policy makers, civil society and inter-governemental organisations representatives. Children and young people also engaged in the conference.

EPIM grantee organisations from the sub-fund actively participated in the conference and organised the “Living Library” and the workshop session. During the Living Library “Children and youth on the move: the long road to protection”, frontline practitioners from Germany, Greece, Italy and Belgium invited the participants on an interactive thematic walk through some of the stages children and youth go through on their journey in Europe: “Arrival: identification and reception conditions”, “On the move: protection across states and effective guardianship systems” and “Inclusion and participation in society: reaching adulthood, emancipation and empowerment”. Through interactive discussions, the civil society representatives talked about their work, the specific challenges and opportunities children face in their country and brought into the discussion the voice of the children they work with.

In the EPIM workshop entitled “The role of quality care in encouraging children and youth on the move in Europe to seek support in protected spaces”, representatives from civil society organisations in Belgium, Germany, Greece and Italy who work with children discussed the practices they have adopted in pursuit of providing quality care to the children and ensuring that this resonates with the child’s mandate for his/her journey to Europe. Besides gaining insight into those practices, how these are tailored to the (shifting) profile of the child, the dilemmas that practitioners have – and continue to face – in this respect, workshop participants have exchanged on the transferable lessons that can be drawn for other Member States and the EU as a supportive environment. You will find here the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop.

Before the conference, EPIM organised a convening workshop which aimed to bring together all grantee organisations and funders of this sub-fund for the first time to get to know each other and the funded projects across European countries. The 40 participants from the focus countries Greece, Italy, Germany and Belgium engaged in ice breaker activities, role play scenarios and interactive discussions with a lot of space to exchange on challenges and learnings from their work, their objectives for the conference “Lost in Migration” and identify future opportunities to collaborate.

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SCI-EPIM conference on “Effectively communicating and messaging on refugee and migrant issues in a changing environment: the role of civil society in the current policy and public debate”

7-8 February 2017, Brussels

On 7 and 8 February 2017, EPIM together with the Social Change Initiative held the conference “Effectively communicating and messaging on refugee and migrant issues in a changing environment: the role of civil society in the current policy and public debate” in Brussels, bringing together around 100 national and Pan-European civil society representatives and funders interested to learn more about strategic communications on migration.

The first day of the event was composed of a mixture of key note speeches, presentations and discussions focused on identifying the challenges in current public discourses and perceptions on migration, the opportunities for more strategic communications on the issue and the potential impact on advocacy work.

Frank Sharry (America’s Voice) and Elizabeth Collet (Migration Policy Institute Europe) highlighted the importance of a clear public narrative and the role of communications in creating space for advocacy. Tim Dixon (Purpose Europe) and Robert Grimm (Ipsos Mori) presented the findings from their public opinion research in Germany and France on attitudes towards migrants and refugees in different segments of the society.

Bringing in the perspective from policy makers, Dr Sarah Spencer (Compas Oxford University) shared the main conclusions from her research on how European policy makers view current civil society advocacy on issues of migration and refugee rights, and what can be done to make these efforts more effective. Gabriela Agatiello (PICUM) then emphasised the challenges civil society organisations experience when advocating for their issues, based on a research PICUM conducted with their member organisations. In small groups, participants further reflected on what they have heard as well as what they could do and are already doing to create and seize opportunities to communicate strategically on the issue. The day was closed by a reception during which David Donoghue, Irish Ambassador to the UN shared his insights into the influence on decision-making at global level.

The second conference day was devoted to representatives from civil society who exchanged on what has been tried and could be done concretely to communicate more and more effectively on migration and how to engage with the different audiences that were mentioned the previous day. Ulrike Grassinger (Counterpoint) led a workshop on the use of frames in communications, Marie Zegierman-Gouzou (l’Accélérateur de la Mobilisation) explained a new approach to grassroots campaigning, Philippa Jones (Strategic Communications Advisor to EPIM) gave concrete tips on engaging with the (Brussels) media and Julia Kirby-Smith and Adam Wagner (RightsInfo)shared their experience on the effective use of diverse digital media.

By combining formats such as interactive breakout groups and workshop sessions this conference stimulated participants to exchange and learn on the communication strategies in the migration field.The participants brought back new learnings such as the necessity to have a tailored approach to each target audience and on the need to include migrants in their communications.

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December 2016 EPIM Policy Update now available

EPIM_PU_ImageThe December 2016 edition of the Policy Update, prepared for organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

EPIM’s Policy Update addresses the topics relevant to EPIM’s current sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reforms of the Common European Asylum System; (3) Children and youth on the move, and (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the reforms proposed by the Slovakian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Slovakia presented an informal proposal to reform the Dublin Regulation ahead of a Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 18 November. The new plan, envisioning an ‘effective solidarity’ mechanism to deal with high numbers of irregular arrivals to the EU, was received with reluctance by other Member States. Nevertheless, Slovakia has vowed to present a revised proposal, with Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák apparently confident that the Slovakian Presidency will be able to negotiate an alternative to mandatory relocation quotas.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Malta’s presentation of its priorities for the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU;
  • The Visegrad Group’s announcement of the intention to set up a migration crisis centre;
  • The Council’s adoption of a ‘European travel document for returns’;
  • A European Commission report on the latest relocation and resettlement numbers;
  • ECRE’s analysis of the European Commission’s CEAS reform proposals;
  • Turkish President Erdogan’s threat to end the EU-Turkey deal;
  • EU funding opportunities under the ‘Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme’;
  • A closer look at the dismantling of the protection space for refugees in Hungary by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
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EPIM call for proposals on protecting access to rights for mobile EU citizens (concept note phase)

In 2015, 15.3 million EU citizens were living in a Member State other than their own. While free movement is at the core of European integration, the question of EU citizens’ mobility has become increasingly politicised as negative sentiments about this issue reached a peak during the EU referendum in the UK and the debates that accompanied it.

Mobile EU citizens may “fall through the cracks” of public policies and actions, both at the national and local levels, hindering access to their rights and entitlements. Firstly, mobile EU mobile citizens are not considered as “migrants” and are therefore not taken into account in policies addressing third-country nationals. Their entitlement to social rights mostly depends on their relationship to the labour market. Furthermore, many EU citizens are also not aware of their own rights. Finally, at the policy level, the Citizens Rights Directive (2004/38/EC) is being transposed into national legislation, interpreted and applied by EU Member States in an increasingly restrictive manner.

Across Europe, these restrictions already impact upon the lives of mobile EU citizens who face discrimination in accessing social services, leaving many without health care, housing, family benefits etc. There is a high risk for ‘Brexit’ and its modalities to further encourage a ‘race to the bottom’ as far as mobile EU citizens’ access to rights is concerned.

With this call for proposals, EPIM aims to support projects of civil society organisations that seek to engage at European level and have an advocacy and/or awareness raising focus, to:

  • Increase EU institutions’ role in monitoring and providing guidance to EU Member States on the transposition, interpretation and application of the Citizens’ Rights Directive, and strengthen EU funding for the protection of mobile EU citizens’ access to rights;
  • Counter the trend towards/limit the possibilities for a restrictive interpretation of the Citizens’ Rights Directive in Member State law, policy and practice, in particular with respect to vulnerable groups;
  • Increase the extent to which mobile EU citizens can effectively secure access to/are aware of their entitlements, and have access to effective accountability mechanisms.

Organisations from all EU Member States can apply for this call for proposals. Projects can run up to 24 months starting in April 2017. Single projects may be proposed for up to 180,000 EUR.

Concept notes can be submitted online at https://applications.nef-europe.org/ until Monday, 9 January 2017 (COB). You will find more information on how to apply in the following documents:

  • EPIM call for proposals (PDF)
  • DOC 1:Guidelines for the submission of a concept note (PDF)
  • DOC 2:Budget template (EXCEL)
  • DOC 3:Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Please refer to EPIM Programme Manager, Sophie Ngo-Diep, at sophie.ngo-diep@epim.info with any questions you might have.

 

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Guidance for unaccompanied and separated children and youth towards autonomy

The project of the civil society organisation Mentor-Escale aims to facilitate the emancipation and the development of autonomy of unaccompanied and separated youth in the Belgian regions Brussels and Wallonia. In-depth and individualised psychosocial and educational support as well as collective social and educational activities aim to give the young people a sense of responsibility in developing and leading their own life plans with regards to housing, financial autonomy, health, education and work, as well as to the creation of a social network. The project also pilots a ‘mentoring service’ which aims at breaking the isolation and solitude that many unaccompanied and separated youth face by matching them with a volunteer mentor family.

The project provides a model of tailored psycho-social support for unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Belgium, an investment that does not only benefit the young people concerned but is also key for the future of the Belgian society which prevents the consequences of leaving young people behind.

October 2016 EPIM Policy Update now available

EPIM_PU_ImageThe October 2016 edition of the Policy Update, prepared for civil society organisations interested in European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration, is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular Policy Updates.

The newly designed Policy Update highlights the topics relevant to EPIM’s sub-funds: (1) Immigration detention; (2) Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS); (3) Children and youth on the move, (4) Mobile EU citizens’ access to rights, and (5) Integration. It also offers at the same time a dynamic overview of recent policy developments.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants. The UN General Assembly hosted its first-ever high-level summit on large movements of refugees and migrants in New York on 19 September. The Summit gathered world leaders for a day to discuss the challenges of, and possible responses to, mass migration, and adopted a declaration outlining broad commitments.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Migration on the agenda of the EU Summit in Bratislava;
  • The Council’s approval of a European Border and Coast Guard service;
  • An analysis of the CEAS reform package;
  • Rulings by the European Court of Justice on the expulsion of non-EU citizens with EU citizen dependents; and
  • A closer look at unaccompanied children in Greece as seen through the eyes of Faros, an EPIM grantee organisation.
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EPIM Call for Proposals on long-term prospects and protection of children and youth on the move in Europe

One in three new arrivals using the Central and Eastern Mediterranean migration routes are children, many of whom are traveling alone, unaccompanied or separated from their families. Regardless of their status, accompanied by family or not, investing now in the potential of these children and youth is vital for their future and the future of European societies.

Efforts need to be made jointly, in countries of arrival, transit and destination, as well as in cooperation with countries of origin. EU-level policy making and funding is rapidly evolving at this time, which is why advocacy at EU level is vital. Civil society organisations have been at the forefront of supporting those arriving and are deeply involved for many years defending the rights of children and youth. Their input from the ‘front lines’ is needed to advise EU-level policy making. At the same time, ‘children and youth’ and ‘migration’ are often still treated as separate areas of specialisation. There is increasing recognition for the need to bridge the existing expertise in both sectors in order to advocate together for the provision of adequate solutions for children and youth in migration.

The EPIM call for proposals consequently seeks to address many of these challenges and will support civil society organisations’ projects at EU level which both form strong partnerships that:

  • Strengthen the collaboration among a diverse set of stakeholders in the child’s rights and migration areas to establish a joint understanding of priorities and to initiate joint action; and/or
  • Create and emphasise linkages between national- and EU-level advocacy as well as across Member States with effective communication channels to detect and highlight challenges of implementation as well as promising policy in Member States; and/or
  • Promote promising practices in Member States to be adapted and scaled up in other local or national contexts, e.g. regarding guardianship, child supportive multi-dimensional services, child participation or empowerment;

and advocate for (one or more of) the following objectives to be addressed at EU level:

  • The level of protection and access to rights and services is not determined by the formal legal status of the child or youth;
  • A protection chain is completed for children and youth from the country of origin, on the route to and at the point of arrival in Europe;
  • Family unity is protected and quality of care is ensured to provide incentives for unaccompanied and separated children and youth to stay in protected spaces;
  • EU funding is allocated to encourage the provision of long-term perspectives for children and youth in Europe.

The projects can run for a timeframe of up to 24 months starting in late 2016 or early 2017. Projects can be proposed for a grant of up to 150,000 EUR to be awarded under this call for proposals.

Project proposals can be submitted online at https://applications.nef-europe.org/ until 21 November (new deadline). You will find more information on how to apply in the following documents:

  • EPIM call for proposals (PDF)
  • DOC 1: Guidelines for the submission of a proposal (PDF)
  • DOC 2: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Please refer any questions you might have to the EPIM Senior Programme Manager, Sarah Sommer, at sarah.sommer@epim.info.

 

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NEVER ALONE: for a feasible tomorrow – Reception and support for unaccompanied and separated children and youth reaching Italy alone

The Italian Foundations Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione con il Sud, Enel Cuore, Fondazione CRT, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Fondazione Peppino Vismara and Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena have launched the initiative “NEVER ALONE, for a feasible tomorrow – Reception and support for unaccompanied and separated children and youth reaching Italy alone”. This fund supports work in Italy with a total budget of €3,500,000, and is part of the EPIM Sub-Fund on long-term prospects and protection of children on the move in Europe. For more information, please see below or visit the website of the Italian fund.

Aims and areas of intervention

The aim of the fund in Italy is to strengthen and support innovative solutions addressing how to take charge of unaccompanied and separated children in terms of integration and autonomy, ensure full respect of minors’ rights and provide attention to individualised needs.

Support is provided to projects based on collaboration between civil society organisations and public bodies, especially local ones, at the front line in taking charge of unaccompanied and separated children in various areas: reception, education, training, work, help with housing autonomy, psychological support, and legal aid. ChM

Selected projects focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Defining ways to help achieve autonomy as adults;
  • Boosting and spreading guardianship systems;
  • Fostering and encouraging voluntary tutors;
  • Reception and support for girls.

Following the call for proposals, 8 projects were selected, involving a total of 20 local institutions and 55 non-profit organisations, covering the various regions of Italy:

TOGETHER. Building the future togetherLed by Save the Children Italy 

ALONG THE WAY – Experimentation of network actions for the transition to adulthood of unaccompanied and separated children and young adults, Led by CESVI Fondazione Onlus 

Ragazzi Harraga – processi di inclusione sociale per minori migranti non accompagnati nella città di Palermo, Led by Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia Onlus

Mai più soli – pratiche di accoglienza a misura di ragazzoLed by C.I.D.I.S. Onlus 

M.A.P.NET – Miglioramento dei sistemi di Accoglienza e Protezione dei minori non accompagnati a rischio di tratta e sfruttamento, Led by Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud 

M.S.N.A. – Minori e giovani Stranieri Non accompagnati: Azioni di inclusione e autonomia, Led by Istituto Don Calabria 

NEVER ALONE, per un domani possibile Accoglienza e accompagnamento dei minori e giovani stranieri non accompagnati che arrivano in Italia soli, Led by Dedalus Cooperativa Sociale 

MSNA – Minori: Seminare una Nuova AccoglienzaLed by Fondazione Museke Onlus 

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July 2016 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPIM_PU_ImageThe July 2016 edition of the EPC Policy Update prepared for civil society organisations interested in the European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. As EPIM enters its fourth phase, the Policy Update is adapting to the topics relevant to EPIM’s sub-funds: (1) immigration detention; (2) reforms of the Common European Asylum System; (3) children on the move and (4) EU mobile citizens’ access to social benefits.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the Franco-German proposal for a stronger Europe, in which the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany put forward demands and plans on, among other priorities, how to achieve a Common European Asylum System. Although it achieved limited visibility and its impact is uncertain, this revitalisation of Franco-German relations does warrant a closer look.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • A new section on EU funding opportunities;
  • The new Migration Partnership Framework for cooperation with third countries;
  • The political agreement on the European Border and Coast Guard;
  • An analysis of the potential impact of Brexit on the CEAS and EU/UK citizens;
  • The rulings by the European Court of Justice on the detention of persons subject to a return procedure and the rights of asylum seekers in the realm of Dublin transfers;
  • The publication of the European Commission’s Second Implementation Report on the EU-Turkey deal which notes a sharp decrease in the number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers crossing from Turkey into Greece;
  • A closer look at the ‘Recent developments at the Bulgarian border’, by the EPIM grantee organization Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria.

 

 

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Supporting participation and inclusion of unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Germany

BSt_Logo_53mm_schwarz_sRGB_144dpi.jpg_2016The programme in Germany supports non-profit organisations and public bodies to provide assistance for the inclusion and participation of unaccompanied and separated children and youth. The aim is to develop knowledge and skills relating to the specific needs of this group and to improve coordination within the country. Led by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the following projects are being supported:

‘Young refugees’ participation: Pilot project as part of the “Willkommen bei Freunden” (“Welcome as Friends”) programme.’
Led by Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung
The “Willkommen bei Freunden” programme is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ). With this grant, the Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung will expand integration and participation measures for unaccompanied and separated children and youth with a particular focus on strengthening young peoples’ voices and actively involve them in the planning and organisation of activities dedicated to them. Contrary to many initiatives that are targeted to children and youth below the age of 18, this project stresses the open participation for all young people interested to join.

‘Language is key: Summer camps for unaccompanied and separated children and youth’
Led by the v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel
The v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel in Bielefeld is an organisation for unaccompanied and separated children and youth, supporting 150 young people at present. Together with the department at Bethel, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is piloting three one-week language camps for the summer and autumn holidays in 2016. During the camps, young people will receive intensive language training. A diverse range of leisure activities with workshops focusing on German, sport and excursions are part of the camp programme. If the language camps are considered successful, they will be repeated in other places and scaled up.

‘OpenTransfer BarCamps’
Led by Stiftung Bürgermut
Social initiatives and organisations that work with unaccompanied and separated children and youth are too often forced to reinvent the wheel because of a gap in knowledge sharing among organisations. Together with the Stiftung Bürgermut, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is developing a transfer concept to increase the exchange of good examples in Germany. In the process, good examples from different regions are being brought together at BarCamps in a central location in North Rhine-Westphalia. This allows for the identification of good practice solutions, networking opportunities, fostering cooperation and speeding up transfer processes.

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EPIM seeks a Programme Manager

EPIM is looking for a Programme Manager to support the team as a key point of contact for civil society organisations seeking and receiving EPIM funding, will review grant requests and manage a portfolio of Sub-Fund grants in defined substantive areas. The Programme Manager will contribute to the implementation of grantmaking, capacity development and the evaluation and monitoring of programmes. The position requires some European travel.

The ideal candidate will have knowledge and experience in working with civil society organisations, broad expertise in relation to migration and integration, strong skills in multi-actor collaborations and will be a highly competent project manager ideally with grant-making experience. EPIM seeks a future team member who is analytical and strategic, flexible and meticulous, an independent problem solver, collegial and able to thrive in a dynamic environment. This position is full time and based in Brussels, Belgium.

Please find out more about the job, the desired profile and how to apply.

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May 2016 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPIM_PU_ImageThe May 2016 edition of the EPC Policy Update prepared for civil society organisations interested in the European policy developments in the areas of migration and integration is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. As EPIM enters its fourth phase, the Policy Update is adapting to the topics relevant to EPIM’s sub-funds: (1) immigration detention; (2) reforms of the Common European Asylum System; (3) children on the move and (4) EU mobile citizens’ access to social benefits.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to an analysis of the EU-Turkey agreement and its consequences. While deemed necessary by European leaders, the deal gave rise to substantial legal questions, sparking heavy criticism from human rights organisations and NGOs.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The  extension of temporary border controls within the Schengen area;
  • The European Commission’s publication of several legislative proposals for a reform of the Common European Asylum System and Dublin regulation;
  • An analysis of what Brexit could mean for EU citizens in the UK;
  • The rulings by the European Court of Justice on return procedures to safe third countries and on the extent to which the sponsor’s financial situation can influence the right to family reunification;
  • The recent publication of Eurostat data regarding asylum decisions and unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2015;
  • A closer look on ‘Right to an effective remedy in detention and deportation cases’ in the context of Cyprus, by the EPIM grantee organisation KISA.

 

 

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Making EU mobile citizens visible: access to healthcare across EU borders

Led by Médecins du Monde

This project aims to ensure access to healthcare for vulnerable mobile EU citizens who are falling through the cracks of Regulation 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems, the Citizens’ Rights Directive (2004/38) and the Cross-border healthcare Directive (2011/24).

This project aims to document the gap between healthcare entitlements as enshrined in EU instruments and actual barriers encountered by mobile EU citizens in accessing healthcare; the results of this data collection exercise serve as a foundation for advocacy at both national and European level. MDM also raises awareness among mobile EU citizens themselves about their rights and on how to better access healthcare.

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PRODEC – Protecting the Rights of Destitute EU mobile Citizens

Led by European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)

This project aims to create a sense of urgency at the European political level on the issue of homelessness among mobile EU citizens, ensuring legal certainty with regard to homeless EU mobile citizens’ access to rights and empowering destitute mobile EU citizens to claim their rights. Specific attention is paid to countries such as Belgium, Germany and the UK which are among the countries where the issue is the most acute.

Project partners rely on a multi-level strategy, including advocacy actions and training/awareness-raising among homelessness services and public authorities which are in direct contact with mobile EU citizens. Through these activities, the project aims, amongst others, to provide EU institutions with concrete and enforceable proposals for a revision of the existing framework, to provide professionals with the necessary knowledge on how to support destitute mobile EU citizens, and to provide EU mobile citizens themselves with tools to prevent destitution and enhance social inclusion.

 

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ACT for Free Movement

Led by the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) and European Alternatives

This project aims to provide support, resources and training to European citizens in order to equip them with the relevant knowledge and skills to do monitoring and advocacy around the Citizens’ Rights Directive. Project partners adopt a multi-level strategy, including the documentation of the implementation of the EU Citizens’ Rights Directive across EU Member States, EU-level advocacy, strategic use of existing EU complaint mechanisms and training of citizens’ rights activists.

Considering the fact that the last communication of the European Commission on the Citizens’ Rights Directive was issued in 2009, and taking into account the latest EU developments on the issue of free movement, the project aims to generate momentum for a new EC Communication to guide Member States in applying the Directive.

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EPIM call for participation: communicating on migration in a changing environment

EPIM is issuing a call for participation for civil society organisations (CSOs) working at pan-European level with the interest, ability and intent to build their communication capacities and explore ways of reaching out to the broader public on migration issues. The group of CSOs identified through this call will: (i) benefit directly from the support of a shared advisor to develop their skills in strategic communications (i.e., the use of communications to achieve or complement identified long-term goals) and (ii) receive support to learn to respond to current and/or immediate communications challenges. Joint activities among the participating CSOs will also be supported to share experience and practical information. This activity will take place over a one-year pilot phase period, with the potential for continuation. The call for participation is open until 20 May 2016.

Read more in the call for participation.

If you are interested to apply, please fill out the application form (Word/PDF) and send it back to the EPIM Progamme Manager.

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Publication of the report “Evaluation of EPIM III: 2012-2015”

In 2012, EPIM commissioned RAND Europe to undertake an evaluation of EPIM’s third funding phase. The report “Evaluation of EPIM III: 2012-2015″ has now been published. The report looks at the projects from civil society organisations which EPIM supported between 2012 and 2015 and which aimed to influence EU policies and their national implementation in three defined focus areas: asylum seekers; undocumented migrants; and equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

The aims of this external evaluation of EPIM III are to assess the progress made at the level of the EPIM III programme as a whole and to identify lessons learned by the grantee organisations about pathways to achieving impact.

The following key findings, among others, are highlighted in the report:

  • The evaluation found that the overall achievements of EPIM III are substantial and have taken place against the backdrop of a difficult political climate.
  • EPIM III resulted in capacity-building outcomes and development among all grantees, but particularly among newer organisations. All organisations evidenced outcomes of increased capacity to conduct research, to run advocacy and awareness campaigns and to influence stakeholders. Workshops and conferences organised by EPIM provided grantees with valuable networking opportunities.
  • Data collection and dissemination featured prominently among grantees’ objectives and through supporting these outputs, EPIM III added value to other civil society organisations and policy makers.
  • EPIM III contributed to early steps towards changing policy in a number of areas. The ability of national-level grantees to reach policy makers at the European level was enhanced by the networks facilitated by EPIM III.
  • Through the work of some grantee organisations, EPIM III was able to deliver benefits to individual migrants and asylum seekers.

The report can be downloaded via this link.

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Call for Proposals in Italy: NEVER ALONE, for a feasible tomorrow

The Italian Foundations Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione con il Sud, Enel Cuore, Fondazione CRT, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo and Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena have published the call for proposal “NEVER ALONE, for a feasible tomorrow. Reception and support for unaccompanied children and youth reaching Italy alone”. This fund in Italy is part of the EPIM Sub-Fund on long-term prospects and protection of children on the move in Europe. The deadline for applications is 16 May 2016.
More information on the details of the call for proposals can be found at Fondazione Cariplo’s website (in Italian) and in short below:

Aims and areas of intervention
The aim of the call for proposals is to strengthen and innovate how to take charge of unaccompanied minors (UAMs) for integration and autonomy and to ensure full respect of minors’ rights and attention to individualised needs.
Help and support will be provided to projects based on collaboration between third sector organisations and public bodies, especially local ones, at the front line in taking charge of UAMs in various areas: reception, education, training, work, help with housing autonomy, psychological support, legal aid.
The organisations promoting this intend to support a limited number of projects over several years that are aimed at strengthening multidimensional ways to take charge of unaccompanied minors and that can guarantee long-term effective and inclusive support.

Projects must invest in one or more of the following areas in order to be eligible for funding:

  • Defining ways to help achieve autonomy as adults;
  • Boosting and spreading guardianship systems;
  • Fostering and encouraging voluntary tutors;
  • Reception and support for girls.

Who is eligible for the call?
The call is aimed at public-private partnerships made up of at least three parties with proven experience in reception and inclusion of minors and/or migrants/seeking asylum.

Application and selection process
There are two phases to the call:

(1) During the first phase partnerships may present a project idea through their leading organisations no later than 16 May 2016 based exclusively on the indications set out in the application guide;
(2) In the second phase, limited to project ideas actually selected, partnerships may present final and detailed projects through their leading organizations and according to the indications set out in the application guide.

Budget and duration
The budget set aside for the call is €3,500,000.
The project idea must estimate the cost of the project, bearing in mind that:

  • Application for contributions must not exceed 70% of total costs and must be no less than € 150,000 and no more than €700,000;
  • Duration of interventions must be between 18 and 36 months.
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EPIM IV Opening Event in Athens

On 10 March 2016, funders and EPIM grantee organisations’ representatives came together for an opening event marking the beginning of the fourth funding phase of the programme (2016-2018). The event took place in Greece (Athens), a country at the centre of the current refugee and humanitarian situation, and also one of the three focus countries of the EPIM Sub-fund on Immigration Detention and a focus country of the Sub-fund on Children on the Move. The event was part of a series of meetings, workshops and site visits that EPIM held in Lesvos and Athens that week.

The Opening Event aimed at fostering the exchange of knowledge, learnings and best practices among EPIM grantee organisations, but also at providing a platform for grantees to be informed and give feedback on the priorities and developments of EPIM in the fourth phase of the programme.

Besides looking at the future, the event also provided the space for reflection on the key learnings of the EPIM III projects and their relevance in the current context, where the high numbers of people arriving and seeking protection in Europe are influencing public debates and policy-making in Europe. These key learnings are captured in the final external evaluation report on the EPIM III programme prepared by RAND Europe, which has been circulated before the event and referred to during the discussions.

Elizabeth Collett (MPI Europe), Epaminondas Farmakis (Solidarity Now) and Apostolos Veizis (Médecins Sans Frontières Greece) initiated the discussions by providing insights into their assessments on opportunities and challenges in the current context of migration in Europe and Greece specifically. In roundtables, participants then discussed questions such as: Are the learnings from the past three years not valid anymore in the current climate? How to translate local advocacy into European messages and vice versa? How do we engage with and bring together stakeholders in times of increasing polarisation? Do project goals which may have seemed realistic in the past need to be reframed today?

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March 2016 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPIM_PU_ImageThe March 2016 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. As EPIM enters its fourth phase, the Policy Update is adapting to the topics relevant to EPIM’s sub-funds: (1) immigration detention; (2) reforms of the Common European Asylum System; (3) children on the move and (4) EU mobile citizens’ access to social benefits.

The new Policy Update also comes with a new structure including the following chapters: special focus, political developments, legislative developments, ECJ case law and legal actions, a closer look from EPIM grantees, facts and figures and the EU calendar.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to the deal between the EU and the UK and how it could potentially affect the freedom of movement of EU citizens.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • An overview of EPIM’s focus as it steps into the fourth phase (2016-2018);
  • The outcomes of recent high level meetings and summits, such as the European Council meetings, the JHA Council meeting and the Austrian organised “Managing Migration Together” meeting in Vienna, with the subsequent reactions;
  • The deployment of NATO in the Aegean sea and the EU-Turkey Action Plan;
  • Belgium introducing controls on the French border and the European Council asks Greece for reforms to border deficiencies, adding more pressure to an already immensely strained Schengen area;
  • Several legislative proposals, including the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG);
  • The European Commission issuing reasoned opinions on the non-transposition of the Common European Asylum System to several member states;
  • Case studies from ECJ Case Law on detention and EU mobile citizens;
  • A closer look on ‘Which Europe?’ by Spyros Rizakos, Director of AITIMA in Greece.

 

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EPIM Call for Proposals: Supporting unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Greece

Migration has moved to the top of Europe’s agenda as one of the key questions concerning the future of European societies. Despite its relevance when talking about the future, the potential and particular vulnerability of children on the move have been underrepresented in the debate. While EU Member States struggle to come up with coordinated responses, the foundations engaged in the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) have dedicated a joint sub-fund to the promotion of long-term perspectives and protection of children on the move.

To support the effort at European level and dedicate attention to a group of particularly vulnerable individuals, four focussed country programmes are being rolled out in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Greece to address reception and the inclusion of unaccompanied and separated children and youth.

Greece faces a variety of challenges as a key country of arrival and transit, as well as a potential future country of destination. The current conditions in the country and its location now make Greece a transit country for children and youth, which leads to a high proportion of unaccompanied and separated children and youth absconding from reception facilities to move on to other EU Member States rather than seeking asylum in Greece. This onward journey puts children and youth in greater danger, increases their vulnerability and delays their integration into European society.

With this call for proposals, EPIM, together with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Bodossaki Foundation, seeks to support civil society organisations in Greece who contribute to (at least one of) the following objectives:

  • IDENTIFICATION: Build safe structures and networks at the first points of arrival and strengthen mechanisms for identification in registration centres and main cities of transit.
  • Ensure that when arriving at the national points of entry or in transit destinations, children and youth are identified as being unaccompanied or separated, are referred to the appropriate child support institutions to be registered and receive the required protection and support.
    Develop an effective referral and registration system to foster collaboration among local authorities, civil society professionals, volunteers and all other relevant stakeholders.

  • PROTECTION: Provide alternatives to detention with the support of sustainable transit structures. Foster individualised support and protection with the scaling up and improvement of the guardianship system for children and youth transiting through and/or establishing their life in Greece. 
  • Ensure that sufficient trained staff is mobilised within civil society organisations who will be able to take on the role or train others as children’s guardians and identify the best interest of the individual child to support them on their journey.
    Adapt the outreach of existing measures to the needs and current (financial) situation in Greece.
    Build human capacity (social workers, psychologists etc.) to react to developments around the arrival of children and youth in the short, medium and long term.

  • AWARENESS-RAISING: Raise awareness of the issues concerning unaccompanied and separated children and youth to avoid misinterpretation and increase the attention given to children and youth.
  • Provide knowledge on the need for the determination of the best interest of the child to all actors concerned with the reception of UACs, including local authorities.
    Coordinate the efforts of civil society organisations and authorities to identify children and youths and their vulnerability in reception, transfer and integration procedures.
    Empower unaccompanied and separated children and youth and make their voice heard.

The sub-fund is established for a period of 24 months. Project grants may amount up to €150,000 for the given timeframe.

All organisations eligible for EPIM funding are invited to submit a proposal for a project by 31 March 2016. Organisations eligible for EPIM funding with projects meeting the selection criteria will be invited to an interview with EPIM before their application is submitted to the EPIM Selection Committee for decision in late April 2016.

If you consider applying for EPIM funding in response to this call for proposal, please fill out the application form and send it to EPIM Programme Manager Sarah Sommer at sarah.sommer@epim.info.

DOC 1: Guidelines for submission of a proposal (PDF)
DOC 2: Application From (Word/PDF)
DOC 3: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Please refer to the EPIM Secretariat with any questions you might have.

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Denisa Ticusan

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Denisa joined the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) in August 2016 as a Programme and Communications intern. She holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations and European Studies at National School of Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest and is currently doing a Master of Arts in International Relations with International Conflict and Security at the Brussels School of International Studies (University of Kent).

During her studies and constant volunteering activities she has developed her interest concerning the migration and integration fields. Before joining EPIM she has worked as an intern for the European Institute in Romania and has also participated in the organizing of conferences and events with international participation such as the Diplomatic Agenda. She is fluent in both English and French.

Pilot sub-fund on immigration detention 2015-2016

A pilot phase of the sub-fund on immigration detention was launched in 2015 and supported nine civil society projects in the focus countries Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece for an initial project phase of 12 months (September 2015-August 2016). The pilot sub-fund aimed for civil society to seize opportunities to advocate for:

  • Reducing the use of detention to a tool of last resort only: Improve court control and judicial oversight of the detention process and/or use targeted strategic litigation at the national level, as means of reducing its use;
  • Increasing transparency and accountability: Improve monitoring and accountability of detention practice, in particular through improving access to detention facilities for NGOs and documenting practices;
  • Promoting alternatives to detention: Implement training and campaigning activities that promote alternatives to detention. Particularly, raise awareness about the detention of children and advocate for alternatives.

ECRE: Asylum Information Database (AIDA)

EPIM has awarded a three-year grant to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) for them to sustain and further develop the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) that was establishes through an EPIM grant in 2012-2015.

AIDA documents the situation of asylum systems through information provided from experts in the field in 18 European countries. It provides the only comprehensive information database where perspectives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field shed light on asylum practice.

AIDA

AIDA is producing knowledge and awareness on asylum in Europe as follows:

  • Information from the field is provided by NGOs active in refugee protection and in daily engagement with asylum seekers and refugees throughout the process.
  • Asylum information made available from governmental and EU sources such as Eurostat is analysed and explained in an accessible manner that allows for a better understanding of official data and for identifying gaps in official information collection processes.
  • Through a common methodological framework on the implementation of the EU asylum acquis and relevant European standards, the database strengthens the work of ECRE member organisations at the national level and enhances their knowledge and expertise at the EU level.
  • Through its legal briefings, AIDA bridges evidence-based research with advocacy and legal reasoning by identifying and commenting on key gaps in the CEAS.

Eligo Plus

Led by Minor-Ndako

The civil society organisation Minor-Ndako is supporting unaccompanied and separated youth who have been identified as facing additional social, health and psychological vulnerabilities. In contrast to shorter-term reception practices by the state, the initiative “Eligo” is providing long-term qualitative support aiming at fostering the unaccompanied and separated youth’s personal development, participation in society and overall well-being in a context of autonomous living. Eligo currently supports 34 unaccompanied and separated youth in Brussels and Flanders within the system of special youth care. With the project grant, “Eligo Plus” can upscale and strengthen the individual and psycho-social support it provides to the young people with seven additional reception places.

Eligo Plus includes two buddy programmes with students of orthopedagogics and social work, in partnership with the Odisee school. In the “leisure buddy” programme, unaccompanied and separated youth carry out various leisure activities with buddy students, which aim at facilitating their integration in the host society and at the creation of a social network. The “duo buddy” programme pairs a student coached with a professional social worker who together support and empower an unaccompanied and separated youngster in his or her transition to autonomy. Both types of buddy programmes are accompanied by training and monitoring by a team of professional social workers.

HEAR – Hearing Entails Awareness and Rights

<a href=”http://www.epim.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Diedring-Photo.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-5258″ style=”border: 2px solid grey;” src=”http://www.epim.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Diedring-Photo-233×300.jpg” alt=”Diedring Photo” width=”233″ height=”300″ /></a> Michael Diedring joined EPIM as its Director in early 2016. He is a lawyer and accomplished NGO professional whose life was transformed by a ‘short sabbatical’ from the private practice of law to assist in legal reform in Central and Eastern Europe. He relocated to Europe in 1995. Over his career, Michael has worked in more than 60 countries. Michael came to EPIM from ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles), where he was Secretary General from 2012-2016.

Michael is a dual German and American citizen, and has held positions as Executive Director of the CEELI Institute (Prague), Director General of the Baltic Management Institute (Vilnius), founding Country Representative for the Baltic-American Enterprise Fund (Vilnius), Deputy Executive Director of the International Bar Association (London) and founding Deputy Director of the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI) (Washington, DC). Michael earned his Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law and a Bachelors Degree in rhetorical speech from Drake University.

EPIM seeks Strategic Communications Advisor on Migration

EPIM seeks for a strategic communications advisor on a consultancy basis to provide expert support and strengthen the capacity of five civil society organisations working on a pan-European level in their communications on migration in the context of a rapidly changing environment and debate (one-year pilot phase starting in September 2016 with potential to continue).

Through an open call for participation, EPIM has selected five CSOs working at pan-European level who have the interest, ability and intent to build their communication capacities and explore ways of reaching out to the broader public on migration issues. The organisations will work closely with the advisor for strategic communications during a pilot phase of one year (with a possibility for extensions) to:

  • identify and pilot new ways of being part of an increasingly fast-paced migration debate and expanding the audience reached by CSOs;
  • strengthen communication capacities and enable CSOs to make communications an integral part of their overall strategy and their day-to-day activity;
  • work towards a more positive perception of migrants that would support advocacy efforts, migrants’ well-being and NGO staff’s work in the field.

Please find more information in the job description.

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December 2015 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPIM Policy Update December ImageThe December 2015 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. These focussed analyses have the aim of supporting the advocacy work being done by organisations engaged in EPIM by providing information on a range of recent EU-level policy-making, legislation and jurisprudence relevant to EPIM’s three focus areas:

(1) Asylum seekers (2) Undocumented Migrants (3) Equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

This edition’s special focus includes an overview of the outcomes of a number of high-level meetings between the EU, Member States leaders and external partners, such as a meeting on the Western Balkans Migration Route, the Valletta Summit on migration and a meeting of EU heads of state and government with Turkey, in Brussels.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The European Commision’s state of play of the measures to address the refugee crisis and the relocation commitments made by member states;
  • A statistical summary of the state of affairs in the Mediterranean from UNHCR;
  • The recent establishment of temporary border controls and an uncertain future for the Schengen agreement;
  • The debates on the lack of long-term vision on migrant inclusion, prompted by the Paris terrorist attacks;
  • The European Council and Parliament agreement on the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing.
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Responding to the needs of female unaccompanied and separated children and youth in a dynamic environment with a holistic model of intervention

Led by PRAKSIS

The goal of this project, led by PRAKSIS in partnership with CIVIS PLUS and ELIX was to enhance protection through increased access to information and services for female unaccompanied and separated children and youth who face particularly high risks on their journey. Trafficking and gender based violence are experiences that too many of these young girls share and that require a particularly sensitive, extensive and rapid intervention and support through a holistic set of services.

With accommodation for female unaccompanied and separated children and youth in a child friendly environment in line with BIA and BID standards, PRAKSIS aimed to ensure quality care and protection through high level of medical, legal, psychological and social support which will pave the way for integration into the Greek society. The project piloted a service that is  not provided in this form and, by filling this gap, aimed to provide a model whose standards can be replicated by the Greek state and other institutions.

Collaborating closely with the responsible state authorities and the police, PRAKSIS aimed to help reduce the number of cases of child smuggling and trafficking, while providing vulnerable groups with sufficient information and skillsets to respond to everyday challenges in their young lives.

Following their Footsteps

Led by Faros

Together with the NGO partners Solidarity Now, Merimna, CIVIS PLUS and Babel, Faros expanded a project with a holistic approach to identification, protection and the prevention of absconding for unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Athens, where many of them are  stranded.

Through extensive street work, the project strengthened the identification process of unaccompanied and separated children and youth in the street of Athens to then ensure the provision of an alternative to detention or street-life after their identification. Unaccompanied and separated children and youth are accommodated in a transit centre with the capacity for 20 children. Accompanying them in their transition to permanent shelter, Faros ensured with its partners that the children and youth have the opportunity to attend Greek language courses and other social activities that facilitate their integration into the host society and give them structure and stability on a daily basis.

In order to strengthen the capacities of their own and other care-giving staff, professionals were trained in grief counselling and supervised in groups to ensure good quality care that also takes into consideration the particularly encumbering situation for the professionals themselves.

Based on the experience of the organisations involved and additional research, Faros  further identified and learned more about the reasons and the prevention of absconding of children and youth in care; an issue of high concern in Greece and other EU Member States. A policy brief addressed the issue on a political level, accompanied by awareness raising activities targeting practitioners to allow them to implement the identified measures to reduce the phenomenon of absconding.

Strengthening the Protection Network: A project on guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children

Led by METAdrasi

METAdrasi has established a Guardianship Network for unaccompanied and separated children assisting overstretched public prosecutorswho hold the legal responsibility for often hundreds of children at the same time, and cannot provide the individualised care that would be required.

Guardians who are trained, supervised and employed by METAdrasi are authorised by the First Instance Public Prosecutors and Prosecutors for minors to offer personalised support on issues relating to asylum claims and family reunification, medical care and education and to safeguard the children’s rights. They further assist in the early and accurate identification of unaccompanied and separated children.

With this project grant, METAdrasi aimed to prolong, enhance and expand the guardianship system in Athens, Lesvos and other locations of urgency. This included more trainings of guardians based on best practices in the fields of child protection and international protection in Greece and other EU countries. Additional guardians were be placed in locations such as Lesvos to enhance the identification and registration procedures at the point of first arrival. Scaling up the number and services of guardians employed by METAdrasi ensured the protection of children at particularly high risk with the provision of personalised counselling and support in order to ensure access to the asylum procedure, healthcare and education as well as promotion of the general psychosocial well-being of the children, and support in activities relevant to family reunification.

METAdrasi aimed to raise awareness of the needs of unaccompanied and separated children, including advocacy for the reform of the legal framework for guardianship in Greece, and for the establishment of an independent and flexible register of guardians for unaccompanied and separated children throughout Greece in the long term.

EPIM toolkit on drafting successful applications for EU funding

The EU funding toolkit consists of material provided and gathered from the fifth capacity building workshop for EPIM III grantees conducted earlier this year. The workshop “Drafting successful applications for EU funding: training on project and budget design”, led by the trainers Isane Aparicio and Lene Topp from Schuman Associates, offered participants the opportunity to receive tailored training on EU funding applications, addressing particular difficulties of smaller NGOs with limited resources.

The aim of these documents is to equip civil society organisations working on migration and integration issues with tools to prepare an application for EU funding and a set of criteria that can make an application more successful.

Table of contents

  • Introductory note
  • Workshop programme
  • Workshop presentation: “How to adapt your own project to the EU requirements”
  • Application evaluation grid
  • Relevant EU Funds for NGOs working in the field of asylum and migration (2014-2020)
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October 2015 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

October 2015 EPC-EPIM Policy Update (3)The October 2015 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. These focussed analyses have the aim of supporting the advocacy work being done by organisations engaged in EPIM by providing information on a range of recent EU-level policy-making, legislation and jurisprudence relevant to EPIM’s three focus areas:

(1) Asylum seekers (2) Undocumented Migrants (3) Equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to analysing the legislative, political and humanitarian developments that have recently taken place concerning the EU’s so-called “refugee crisis”.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • An update on the “hotspots” to assist frontline member states in the context of the refugee crisis;
  • The launch of the AIDA (Asylum Information Database) Annual report 2014/2015: “Common asylum system at a turning point: refugees caught in Europe’s solidarity crisis”;
  • EASO (European Asylum Support Office) – Annual report for 2014 on the situation of asylum in the European Union in 2014;
  • Eurostat statistics on the asylum seekers who applied for protection in the EU during the second quarter of 2015;
  • Frontex’s Western Balkans Quarterly Report for the second quarter of 2015, which forecasted the difficult situation of this summer at the EU external border;
  • Upcoming events at EU level.

 

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Nine projects selected for pilot Sub-Fund on Immigration Detention

On 1 July 2015, the Selection Committee met in London to decide on the projects which would be selected to pilot EPIM’s year-long sub-fund on immigration detention. EPIM is exploring a new programme framework structured by sub-funds and, following the consultation of experts in the field, has decided to pilot this approach in an area of high concern: policies and practices in the detention of migrants in Europe.

This sub-fund concentrates on countries at the Southern and Eastern European borders of Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece, where there is extensive use of immigration detention and high financial and technical needs for civil society action. The nine projects which have been selected will address this issue and advocate for changes in their current national policies and practices, as well as in the EU policy framework.

The projects will begin on 1 September 2015, following an opening workshop, and will continue for one year. EPIM’s Immigration Detention Sub-Fund grantees are:

BULGARIA

  • ‘HEAR – Hearing Entails Awareness and Rights’ Led by the Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR)
  • ‘Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants’ Led by the Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria
  • ‘Improving the judicial guarantees for lawful detention of immigrants’ Led by the Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation
  • ‘Free to Go: Detention as a last, not a first resort’ Led by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

GREECE

  • ‘Fostering Alternatives to Detention for Children’ Led by METAction
  • ‘Monitoring Immigration Detention’ Led by AITIMA
  • ‘Promoting Alternatives to Detention’ Led by the Greek Council for Refugees

CYPRUS

  • ‘End Arbitrary Detention in Cyprus’ Led by KISA
  • ‘Promoting and Establishing Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Cyprus‘ Led by the Future Worlds Centre

 

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EPIM recruits a Programme Director

European Foundations looking to recruit Programme Director to lead a Collaborative Programme on migration and integration in Europe, and to help develop and implement its next stage of institutional and substantive growth.

When the current phase of the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) ends in 2015, the Programme will have completed ten years and three phases of strategic grant-making and capacity development for NGOs advocating for constructive approaches to migration in Europe. 11 European Foundations participating in EPIM aim to expand the scale of EPIM’s engagement in the next phase from 2016 to 2018.

The most significant features of EPIM’s fourth funding phase will be:

  • a new operational model for collaborative re-granting comprising targeted thematic Sub-Funds, allowing for more flexible grant-making on targeted topic areas and timely responses to emerging opportunities and threats in the field. Rolling Calls for Proposals will replace the current three-year Call cycle;
  • an increased scope for EPIM’s capacity development programme, more specialised and targeted to the specific needs of grantee organisations;
  • the enhanced capacity of the EPIM Secretariat in Brussels, enabling it to become a more proactive support centre and convenor for grantees and other field stakeholders.

EPIM’s Partner Foundations delegate the delivery of the Programme to the EPIM Secretariat, backed by the support, accountability and oversight of the EPIM Steering Committee. In order to drive the expanded activities of the Secretariat and Programme, and engage funders and grantees in the years to come, the EPIM Secretariat seeks a Programme Director with demonstrable experience of developing and managing a grants programme, and expertise in the field of migration and integration at European level.

The Programme Director will be responsible for the management and operational coordination of EPIM. S/he will develop, implement and follow-up the operational elements of the EPIM work programme. Reporting to the EPIM Chair and Steering Committee, the Programme Director will supervise the EPIM team as well as all staff and consultants who will be hired by EPIM.

Please find the full terms of reference here.

 

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July 2015 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPIM policy update july image 2015The July 2015 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. These focussed analyses have the aim of supporting the advocacy work being done by organisations engaged in EPIM by providing information on a range of recent EU-level policy-making, legislation and jurisprudence relevant to EPIM’s three focus areas:

(1) Asylum seekers (2) Undocumented Migrants (3) Equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to analysing the European Commission’s Agenda on Migration and summarises the evolution of the different initiatives that have been taken since its adoption.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • The role of the Luxembourgish Presidency in the Council of the EU and its priority to manage migration;
  • The scaling up of Frontex and its joint operations Triton and Poseidon;
  • The creation of a military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR);
  • A synthesis report on unaccompanied minors issued by the European Migration Network (EMN);
  • The bi-annual report on the functioning of the Schengen Area published by the European Commission;
  • A position paper by PICUM on the EU Return Directive 2008/115/EC;
  • Reasoned opinions against Belgium, Spain and Slovenia on their transposition of the Single Permit Directive;
  • Upcoming events at EU level.
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Migreurop opens its “Moving Beyond Borders” exhibition

Migreurop’s exhibition “Moving Beyond Borders” has made its first stop in Brussels between 12-19 June 2015 as the first of a series of showings in European cities which will pop up during the upcoming months. Designed by Etrange Miroirs, this artistic exhibition engages its audience in a multimedia demonstration of the realities of migrants by using maps, soundscapes and photographs. These various mediums are used to guide visitors through the obstacles, injustices and violations of migrants’ rights as they make their way to Europe, as well as to paint scenarios for the potential future development of European migration policy.

picThe exhibition contains five modules: the first three comprise the present reality of migrants (Before the Border, At the Border, Smart Borders), and the last two modules present two opposing futures for migrants of a positive and negative outcome depending on the policy choices made (Worst-case Scenario, Freedom of Movement). These modules allow the audience to question the securitisation of borders and reconsider their intended purposes all together.

The Moving Beyond Border exhibition is part of the EPIM-funded project “Moving Beyond Borders – Protect undocumented migrants on either side of the European borders” drawing on the results of the “Frontexit” and the “Open Access Now” campaigns. The “Frontexit” campaign aims to inform a wide audience about the impacts of Frontex operations in terms of human rights, and to denounce these impacts to the political representatives who are directly involved. The “Open Access Now” campaign focuses on visits by journalists and civil society groups to detention centres for migrants in order to document and inform European citizens about the consequences of the policies implemented in their name.

Migreurop’s Moving Beyond Borders has received media coverage for its exhibition, including an interview on Belgian television broadcasting channel, and an interview on the radio show “Libre Ensemble”. Information about the exhibition can be found here, as well as the press kit.

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Supporting unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Greece

In a collaborative effort, the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) and eleven other European Foundations, including the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Bodossaki Foundation and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation are dedicating a funding programme to the particularly urgent situation of unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Greece. The programme is part of the Europe-wide initiative “Never Alone –Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe”.

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Greece is confronted with the challenges of not only being a key country of arrival and transit but also now a country of destination in Europe. This challenge becomes explicit when looking at the situation of unaccompanied and separated children in the country: according to EKKA (National Center for Social Solidarity), only in early 2016, 1,947 unaccompanied and separated children have arrived in Greece and there are currently about 671 of them in Greece without a shelter, 55% under the age of 14. Moreover, services such as guardianship, psychological care, language training and street work are only provided by civil society organisations who are constrained to maintain or expand their activities due to a lack of funding. Civil society organisations expect that there are even more than the officially registered cases mentioned above of children and youth who are living in non-official camps and on the streets of Athens, Thessaloniki and other locations in Greece. This is putting them in danger, increasing their vulnerability and delaying their integration into European society.

In 2016-2017, responding to the needs in Greece, the EPIM fund has supported civil society organisations in:

  • IDENTIFICATION: Build safe structures and networks at the first points of arrival and strengthen mechanisms for identification in registration centres and main cities of transit.
  • PROTECTION: Provide alternatives to detention with the support of sustainable transit structures. Foster individualised support and protection with the scaling up and improvement of the guardianship system for children and youth transiting through and/or establishing their life in Greece.
  • AWARENESS-RAISING: Raise awareness of the issues concerning unaccompanied and separated children and youth to avoid misinterpretation and increase the attention given to such children and youth.

Three projects were supported with funds totalling 450,000 EUR in the years 2016-2017:

“Responding to the needs of female unaccompanied and separated children and youth in a dynamic environment with a holistic model of intervention”, Led by PRAKSIS

“Following their Footsteps”, Led by Faros

“Strengthening the Protection Network: A project on guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children”, Led by METAdrasi

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M.A.P.NET – Miglioramento dei sistemi di Accoglienza e Protezione dei minori non accompagnati a rischio di tratta e sfruttamento

Led by Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud 

M.A.P.NET is a partnership between SicilyPugliaMarche and Lazio involving eight bodies, institutions and civil society organizations with a common goal: developing a specific host system, able to respond effectively and timely to the needs of children at risk of trafficking.

The adoption of tools for identifying and taking care of migrant girls and boys at risk of trafficking are crucial to put in place the necessary protective measures: from the moment of arrival, the team must be able to recognize possible indicators of trafficking. Through a systematic action, M.A.P.NET supports the various actors’ work involved in this process: municipal structures and reception centres’ operators, volunteer guardians, teachers and students who welcome migrant children, young people in solidarity groups who are active at a local level, representatives of the municipal administrations and relevant authorities as well as sNigerian civil society representatives, important reference points for effective actions of prevention.

The project carries out an integrated approach focused on the training of about 400 operators, capacity building in supporting local governments, the experimentation of new model of reception for girls in particular, the exchange of practices and methods, networking and monitoring.

The project partners are also involved in a programme of action/research run at an inter-regional level and disclosed at national level whose objective is to enhance the dynamics and methods of intervention in the field and evaluate the action impact and its capacity of multiplication.

Project partners:

MSNA – Minori: Seminare una Nuova Accoglienza

Led by Fondazione Museke Onlus 

The project aims to build and share, going beyond the emergency approach of migrant children reception. It comprises ten partners, with the active participation of citizens and institutions, committed to a vision in which migrant children  are no longer seen as the beneficiaries of default integration programmes but as proactive individuals who are responsible for their own life project.

In Brescia, the project provides about 60 young people with a multi-professional team able to enhance a balanced growth of both the individual and the community and create opportunities for interaction between the migrant and the community around him. It does this through volunteer training and education as well as by sharing of experiences in a cultural and social environment, the development of professional skills, and the approach to the labour market.

The partners are arranging meetings devoted to schools and developing special programmes in favour of the sector operators and the citizenship for the recruitment of civic volunteers guardians and the experiment of widespread social foster care practices. These are the paths that may generate a new common space, where  the needs and aspirations of the child are answered and can find opportunities in a conscious and friendly citizenship capable of promoting an effective, long-lasting and inclusive process.

Project partners:

NEVER ALONE, per un domani possibile Accoglienza e accompagnamento dei minori e giovani stranieri non accompagnati che arrivano in Italia soli

Led by Dedalus Cooperativa Sociale 

In CampaniaDedalus cooperates with four partners in  project that aims to improve the quality of life of children migrants and facilitate their access to the opportunities of citizenship of their Italian peers.

Taking advantages from a variety of actions ranging from contact in the streets to the first and second level reception up to housing and working independently, the project is based on a series of individual programmes that call the minors and young adults to actively participate in the definition of their own path: this is a social contract based on shared objectives and activities, where both the youths and the operators are engaged in a fair exchange and in journey far from a mere approach based on the culture of dependency.

The programmes undertaken are meant to meet material needs, but at the same time they also pay a special attention to cultural and social opportunities with a view to enhancing the possibility of living in common spaces and building up relationships based on affection.

The network of partners involved in the project works at the stabilisation of the services offered by the local welfare planning.

Project partners:

M.S.N.A. – Minori e giovani Stranieri Non accompagnati: Azioni di inclusione e autonomia

Led by Istituto Don Calabria

The Istituto Don Calabria, in cooperation with a network of eight partners, operates in Emilia RomagnaSicily and Veneto to enhance the reception of young migrants in the regions and ensure the full respect of children’s rights as well as the recognizion of their needs.

In the areas where the projects are being implemented, the partners are developing support programmes to help young people reach their autonomy, such as literacy courses and initiatives for social integration with a specific attention to the  recreational and cultural aspects. The project aims at the implementation of employment opportunities for young people by activating employment scholarships and internships lasting a minimum of four months. In addition, in order to promote housing inclusion, it enhances the use of apartments in semi-autonomy and offers packages of housing first, through which it makes contributions for the house deposit and rent for a period of six months.

The project is committed to the service operators’ training and the development of effective practices aiming at the immediate identification of vulnerable boys and girls but also possible victims of trafficking. In Palermo, the project has envisaged the creation of a legal information desk for children and young people that may guarantee and extend their protection and support girls victims of trafficking.

In addition, Ferrara, Verona and Palermo are promoting initiatives aiming at informing and raising the awareness among the local community on the issue of foster care and accompanying families by offering training sessions for the families concerned and expanding the network of volunteers guardians through training courses.

Project partners:

Mai più soli – pratiche di accoglienza a misura di ragazzo

Led by: C.I.D.I.S. Onlus 

The challenge for Cidis Onlus and its five partners involved in the project is to ensure a tailored reception to children who arrive alone in Italy, especially in the regions of Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Umbria, Veneto. The project, in order to safeguard the children’s right to a healthy mental and physical development, promotes the interactions and exchange of know-how between the different actors involved in the protection of children and youth, and aims to diversify the interventions targeted at children and youth in their transition to adulthood.

This project has been the first to work on family integration through the implementation of the volunteer guardianship model and foster care system, providing both advocacy and legal protection to promote the respect of children’s rights. The territories involved conduct awareness campaigns on this issue and carry out training programmes for service operators and those who apply for foster parents and guardians in order to examine in depth the psychological, relational, cultural and legal aspects of the reception process.

For young adults, the project is developing sustainable models as alternatives to reception in bigger structures, that may allow both the integration of public and private resources and the participation of the young adults themselves with the administration.

Project partners:

Ragazzi Harraga – processi di inclusione sociale per minori migranti non accompagnati nella città di Palermo

Led by: Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia Onlus

CIAI – Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia (Italian Centre for Aid to Children) is active in Sicily together with a network of eight partners, to enhance and improve the child protection system and to make available to 400 young migrants the services and tools needed to be an integral and resourceful part of the Italian society. The project has been set up in Palermo, a safe landing for many children who arrive in Italy alone after months of fleeing from their countries of origin: girls and boys “who burn the borders” – in Arabic, harraga means “the one who burns” – ready to risk everything to migrate.

With an approach based on both reception and listening, the project runs intercultural workshops, and offers counselling and internship programmes to help children develop their new life project in Italy and put back together the fragments of their lives, starting from their own skills and inclinations. In support of the migrants’ autonomy in Palermo, the cooperation also involves local private companies who are committed to sustain young people’s education and their inclusion in the labour market.

A model of social housing that combines housing and working solutions has been carried out in the Ballarò area:  thanks to the partial refurbishing of a historical building, “Casa Santa Chiara” is expected to open where young people might live and work together.

At the centre there is the willingness to work together with young people for their welfare and autonomy, with an approach based on integration and interaction.

Project partners:

ALONG THE WAY – Experimentation of network actions for the transition to adulthood of unaccompanied and separated children and young adults

Led by CESVI Fondazione Onlus 

This project is an initiative that takes inspiration from the trip to Italy and the long way that every young person has to go in his life; a project that recalls the journey of public and private bodies towards suitable and integrated responses to young people in order to accompany and make them feel responsible in their migratory path; these are the steps that every local community has to take if it wants to play a leading role in the cultural change characterised by reception and integration, in accordance with its peculiarity.

A network of seventeen partners among which public authorities, social cooperatives, associations and training institutions is active in Emilia RomagnaLombardy, Sicily and Tuscany with a view to promoting, share and replicate pilot projects and best practices about reception and integration of young migrants aged between 16 and 19. “Along the way” supports young people in their path towards autonomy and helps them build the necessary competences and awareness for their delicate transition to adulthood: 173 girls and boys are involved in the study programmes and internships in the area.

Project partners:

TOGETHER. Building the future together

Led by Save the Children Italy

The project supports unaccompanied minor and young-adult migrants (17-19 years) who arrive in Italy alone with the objective of giving them a long-term support towards their economic and social autonomy.

In the regions of LazioPiedmont and Sicily, Save the Children has established networks and partnerships with nine partners, among which public bodies, associations and organizations, to plan and carry out support programmes with the full respect of children’s rights, starting from their migratory project, needs, expectations, potential; working side by side with the host community. The aim of teh project is to offer children the chance to re-build their future and give the country the possibility to re-read their faces.

“Together” guides young people who have been involved in training courses and counselling, to the labour market and employment scholarships, supporting them in the care, sports, health and housing aspects. About 1,500 young people have been involved in pathways of Italian and civic education learning: the activities, carried out through the use of social networks and a web radio, aim at enhancing a process of positive integration and facilitating the linguistic learning of words and the knowledge of the workplace organization.

This project implements internship programmes and guidance to housing autonomy for at least 60 young people and is committed to creating a national database of skills for matching the professional profiles of young adults with the needs of the labour market.

The exchange and integration between children migrants and their peer groups in the host community are guaranteed by the implementation, in any city concerned, of a Children’s Council, in which every child can make his/her own contribution to and participate extensively at the best of his/her capacity.

 Project partners:

 

EPIM pilots sub-fund on immigration detention

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) is piloting a new grant-making approach in form of a sub-fund, addressing the issue of immigration detention in Europe. The aim is to support civil society organisations in advocating for changes in their current national policies and practices, as well as in the EU policy framework.

In the context of its fourth programme phase, EPIM seeks to further develop as a collaborative programme. For this purpose, the programme is currently testing the establishment of sub-funds which have the advantage to allow for flexible and targeted grant-making, directly inspired by the needs and concerns in the field.

The issue of immigration detention is of growing concern, especially considering the increasing use of immigration detention as a response to new arrivals of migrants, including refugees, which is sharpened in states at the Eastern and Southern European border due to unprepared systems and the consequences of the economic crisis. Consequently, EPIM funding of this pilot fund concentrates on countries at the Southern and Eastern European border, more precisely on Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece.

One-year projects, led by civil society organisations in these countries will be funded with the aim to:

  1. Reduce the use of detention to a tool of last resort only: Improve court control and judicial oversight of the detention process and/or use targeted strategic litigation at the national level, as means of reducing its use;
  2. Increase transparency and accountability: Improve monitoring and accountability of detention practice, in particular through improving access to detention facilities for NGOs and documenting practices;
  3. Promote alternatives to detention: Implement training and campaigning activities that promote alternatives to detention. Particularly, raise awareness about the detention of children and advocate for alternatives.

The pilot sub-fund is not open for applications. More details on the grantee projects will be available by mid-2015.

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PICUM releases position paper on EU Return Directive

PICUM-pospaperFollowing the unprecedented loss of an estimated 1,600 migrant lives in the Mediterranean in the first months of this year, heads of EU governments adopted a statement on 23 April 2015 which focuses on increased securitisation of the external borders of the European Union and, among other priorities, outlines the establishment of a “new return programme” for rapid return of irregular migrants to be coordinated by Frontex.

Processes of returning undocumented migrants to their countries of origin have been of great concern to PICUM and many of its members in recent years. Conditions of migrants in detention, including the detention of children in some countries, a lack of legal aid and violence during forced removals are examples where migrants face human rights violations in the process of return. Standards and procedures applicable to persons subject to a return decision are currently regulated by Directive 2008/115/EC on “common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals” , also referred to as EU Returns Directive.

PICUM’s new Position Paper on the EU Returns Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC on “common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals”) published on 28 April 2015 highlights these concerns. The paper which aims at informing the debate on possible further development of the EU return policy by providing concrete policy recommendations, argues that policies should be focused on ensuring migrants’ fundamental rights through independent and systematic monitoring of return procedures. It also discussed detention of migrants and calls for viable alternatives to detaining migrants. Children should never be detained and migrants who cannot be returned to their country of origin should be granted leave to remain.

The position paper was developed with input from PICUM members who gathered for PICUM’s first meeting of the new working group on migration policies in Brussels in December 2014.

To read a blog about challenges and shortcomings around the implementation of the EU Return Directive and PICUM’s working group on migration policies click here.

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April 2015 EPC Policy Update for EPIM now available

EPC update Jan 2015The April 2015 edition of the EPC Policy Update specifically prepared for organisations engaged in EPIM is now available online.

EPIM has commissioned the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, to produce regular EPC Policy Updates. These focussed analyses have the aim of supporting the advocacy work being done by organisations engaged in EPIM by providing information on a range of recent EU-level policy-making, legislation and jurisprudence relevant to EPIM’s three focus areas:

(1) Asylum seekers
(2) Undocumented Migrants
(3) Equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants.

This edition’s special focus is dedicated to European Commission’s launch of its work on a Comprehensive Agenda on Migration to be published in May 2015.

Other key highlights of this Policy Update include:

  • Europol’s launch of the JOT (Joint Operational Team) Mare to tackle organised criminal groups facilitating the journeys of migrants by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU;
  • The latest UNHCR report on asylum trends in industrialised countries in 2014;
  • A paper by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) addressing legal access for people in need of international protection;
  • A European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) study analysing the fiscal impact of EU mobile citizens in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK;
  • The opinion of Advocate General Wathelet on the ECJ case Jobcenter Berlin Neuköln v Nazifa, Sonita, Valentina and Valentino Alimanovic, C-67/14;
  • Upcoming events at EU level.
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Guidance for unaccompanied and separated children and youth towards autonomy

Led by Mentor-Escale

The project of the civil society organisation Mentor-Escale aims to facilitate the emancipation and the development of autonomy of unaccompanied and separated youth in the Belgian regions Brussels and Wallonia. In-depth and individualised psychosocial and educational support as well as collective social and educational activities aim to give the young people a sense of responsibility in developing and leading their own life plans with regards to housing, financial autonomy, health, education and work, as well as to the creation of a social network. The project also pilots a ‘mentoring service’ which aims at breaking the isolation and solitude that many unaccompanied and separated youth face by matching them with a volunteer mentor family.

The project provides a model of tailored psycho-social support for unaccompanied and separated children and youth in Belgium, an investment that does not only benefit the young people concerned but is also key for the future of the Belgian society which prevents the consequences of leaving young people behind.

Supporting the empowerment and transition to autonomy of unaccompanied and separated children and youth

Led by Vereniging van Vlaamse Steden en Gemeenten (VVSG)Union des Villes et Communes de Wallonie (UVCW), Brulocalis

The VVSG, UVCW and Brulocalis are non-profit organisations established and managed by the local authorities within the three Regions of Belgium (the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region). One of their main activity is, as umbrella organisations, to represent, inform, and defend the interests of the local Public Centres for Social Welfare (PCSW). PCSWs are public institutions that exist in each of the municipalities in Belgium and their role is to provide social assistance and social integration services. They have been identified as key actors in the inclusion and support of separated and unaccompanied children and youth.

The VVSG, UVCW and Brulocalis have made the common observation that the PCSWs and their local reception structures encounter difficulties when being confronted with separated and unaccompanied children and youth who need additional and specific support. Responding to these challenges, the goal of the project is to strengthen the expertise of the local PCSWs with regards to the profiles, needs and rights of the unaccompanied and separated children and youth in order to better support and empower the latter in their transition to autonomy and emancipation. As leading organisations of the project, the three umbrella organisations closely work together to reach this common goal at the national level with joint national activities and tailored, but similar, regional activities. The project is targeting all Belgian PCSWs, most specifically those who are currently confronted with the reception of separated and unaccompanied children and youth.

Supporting the empowerment and transition to autonomy of unaccompanied and separated youth in Belgium

KBSFRB_logo_E+txtThe programme in Belgium led by the King Baudouin Foundation supports civil society organisations and public bodies with the aim to empower unaccompanied and separated youth in their transition to more autonomy and inclusion within the Belgian society.

In 2015, 5047 unaccompanied and separated children and youth were registered in Belgium, compared to 1780 the year before. The high arrivals have contributed to a situation that puts the inclusion of the children and youth into the Belgian society at risk. Individualised support responding to the needs of this vulnerable group has received less priority in a situation of emergency. Increasingly, unaccompanied and separated youth are pushed towards autonomy due to the lack of available places in reception structures. This leads to a transition towards a (semi-) autonomous living situation and housing which may be much too early for the youth concerned. The lack of specific social support in this critical period of their life can put them at risk, in a situation of marginalisation and/or exclusion from the system altogether.

Responding to the needs of unaccompanied and separated youth in Belgium, the programme aims to strengthen civil society organisations and the umbrella organisations of public centres for social welfare who have been identified as playing a key role in empowering unaccompanied children and youth in their transition to autonomy as follows:

  • Strengthen and scale up the capacities of civil society organisations in empowering the unaccompanied and separated children and youth in their transition towards autonomy.
  • Raise awareness among the local public centres for social welfare to the necessity of a specific support and empowerment of this vulnerable group.
  • Encourage the communication of good practices and the sharing of information between the public centres for social welfare on the issue of the support of unaccompanied and separated youth.
  • Strengthen the capacities of the public centres for social welfare in their activities in supporting unaccompanied and separated children and youth in the transition towards autonomy. Train professionals who work with this vulnerable group with the aim to develop knowledge, skills and tools on the issue.
  • Encourage partnerships between public institutions and civil society organisations on the issue.

Three projects led by five organisations are supported with funds of together 690,000 EUR in 2016-2018:

“Guidance for unaccompanied and separated children and youth towards autonomy”, Led by Mentor-Escale

“Eligo Plus”, Led by Minor-Ndako

“Supporting the empowerment and transition to autonomy of unaccompanied and separated children and youth”, Vereniging van Vlaamse Steden en Gemeenten (VVSG), Union des Villes et Communes de Wallonie (UVCW), Brulocalis.

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Association for Legal Intervention presents report “Unprotected – Migrant workers in an irregular situation in Central Europe”

SIPOn 2 December, the Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej, SIP) presented the report “Unprotected – Migrant workers in an irregular situation in Central Europe” at a hearing at the European Parliament. The report is part of the EPIM-funded project “For Undocumented Migrants’ Rights in Central Europe”, which monitors the implementation of the Employers’ Sanctions Directive (Directive 2009/52/EC) in Central Europe. The project is carried out in partnership with SIMI (Association for Integration and Migration from Czech Republic), ARCA (Romanian Forum for Refugees and Migrants), Menedék (Hungarian Association for Migrants), Society of Good Will and the Human Rights League from Slovakia.

The authors focus on identifying the main obstacles to the full implementation of the protective measures introduced by the Directive with the aim to steer attention towards employment conditions of third-country nationals in Central Europe. The report includes policy recommendations encouraging policy-makers at the national and EU levels to find solutions to strengthen the protection of migrant workers against labour exploitation, with a special focus on undocumented migrants. The research demonstrates that while the labour rights of regular and irregular migrants are almost universally violated, no adequate safeguards are available for workers. It also makes clear that the Directive has little or no impact on the situation of undocumented migrant workers in the five project countries.

The hearing at the European Parliament, organised in cooperation with PICUM, aimed at discussing the impact of the Employers’ Sanctions Directive on reducing irregular migration and on enforcing the labour rights of undocumented workers.

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European NGO Platform on Asylum and Migration (EPAM) launches new website

The new website of the European NGO Platform on Asylum and Migration (EPAM) is launched today on the occasion of the International Migrants Day.

www.ngo-platform-asylum-migration.eu

EPAM

EPAM is the meeting-place of European non-governmental organisations and networks seeking to contribute to the development of asylum and migration policy in the European Union. The Platform has been running on a voluntary basis since 1994.

Through its members, EPAM has an extensive expertise on asylum and migration. Many EPAM members have large networks within EU Member States and beyond in regions of origin, with member organisations working at national and local level with refugees, asylum seekers and migrant communities.

EPAM members meet to exchange information and views on EU developments and to coordinate EU level advocacy actions. Members also use EPAM to meet with representatives of the European Commission and Parliament on EU asylum and migration policy development, as well as Permanent Representations of Member States and EU Presidencies.

To learn more about EPAM’s achievements and its key priorities for the future EU asylum and migration policy, download EPAM’s leaflet here.

EPAM’s website is funded through EPIM’s flexible funds facility.

News from the

ENoMW seminar on migrant women and precarious work

ENoMWOn 3 December, the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) organised a lunch seminar on “Precarious Workers: Migrant Women in the EU, the Fight for Labour Security”, at the European Parliament. The seminar is part of the EPIM-funded project “Promoting the Empowerment of Migrant Women in the European Union”, which has the ultimate goal of including the integration and social inclusion of migrant women in the legal framework of the EU.

With contributions of MEPs, representatives of the European Commission and of the European Economic and Social Committee, the seminar discussed the legal and economic aspects of precariousness, with a specific focus on migrant women and the impact of precariousness on their economic participation, the exercising of active citizenship and basic social rights. Precarious working conditions deriving from the economic crisis and from the mismatch between current labour legislation and changing labour markets are, in the case of migrant women, exacerbated by gender inequality and cultural vulnerabilities.

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Le Soir: 12 hours of work without a break for 30 euros

Article by Lorraine Kihl (26/10/2016)

The fate of unaccompanied minors from Egypt used as cheap labour is cause for concern.

If the worry about unaccompanied minors in Italy is increasing, it’s because the numbers are distressing. The number who have arrived already greatly exceeds the total for 2015. The share of unaccompanied minors among the total number of migrants has almost doubled in a year, going from 8 to 15%.

An anomaly among anomalies: Egyptians. In 2015, two thirds of Egyptian migrants were unaccompanied minors. Field workers denounce a vast network that exploits children as cheap labour.

“Egyptian minors leave the system to re-enter it better: they leave their centre, go up to Rome, Turin, where there are established communities, then approach police and enter a new reception centre”, relates Michele Prosperi of Save the Children. Like Amr, 18 years old today, who has been living in Rome for a year. He dreams of a less “hectic” job in his future. Hectic? “I worked in a car wash for a while. 12 hours of work in full sun and without a break for 30 euros. It was horrible.” According to the youth workers of Civico Zero, the day centre he attends, he’s actually rather lucky. At markets, also run by Egyptians, a day’s pay for minors does not exceed 10 euros.

It’s a well-run operation, explains Marco Cappuccino, the coordinator for the Civico Zero network. “Before, families would sacrifice something of value to come up with the sum allowing their child to cross the Mediterranean. But now, more and more, they go into debt directly with the people smugglers.” The contract implies that reimbursement begins from the moment the child indicates that he is safely in Italy. “The people smugglers then put pressure on the family to collect what they are owed. That’s why minors are so desperate to work, yet it’s completely incompatible with the system.”

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 15% of Egyptian minors who arrived in Italy in 2015 already had a “job” waiting for them before they even landed.

“They now go directly to Sicily to find children when a spot opens here”, laments David, a social worker from Turin. For two years, he has watched helplessly as children are exploited in markets, kebabs shops and even industry. “And when they become adults and need an employment contract to stay in Italy, no problem, but they have to pay for it.”

“Egyptian minors have started showing up in drug trafficking convictions, notes a street youth worker from Turin. That may be an indicator that they are also turning up in this market.”

For associations, as for the authorities, dealing with this phenomenon is extremely difficult. First, because even if young people are trusting enough to talk, no one is ready to take the risk of being an informant and, second, because the migrant intake and integration system is not designed to deal with the indebtedness problem of young people and their families (a crossing from Egypt costs between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars, according to the IOM). And any action of this type risks encouraging people smugglers.

 

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Le Soir: In Italy, searching for missing migrant children

Article in Le Soir by Lorraine Kihl (26/10/2016)

Over 20,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived on Italian shores since the start of the year. Thousands have disappeared without a trace.

Alpha began taking night classes in Italian a few days ago. It does not fill up the entire day, but it’s a start. The rest of the time: sleep, eat, TV, boredom, boredom, boredom. “When it’s possible to go out, we go outside and we watch the traffic. There’s not much to do actually.” But after forced labour and prison in Libya, that’s OK.

The 17-year old from Guinea lives with 24 other boys in a former police station in Catania, Sicily, that was converted into a reception centre two months ago. With 20,160 unaccompanied minors registered since the beginning of the year, according to Save the Children, “emergency” centres set up in parallel to the standard reception system have become the norm in the south of the country.

With few resources (the State provides 45 euros per child per day, compared to 60 to 80 in Belgium) and little organisation, the structures rely heavily on external support (volunteers, foundations, etc.) to provide suitable and complete services for minors: psychological assistance, educational and cultural activities, etc., which produces a lottery effect for young people. Overall, the south of the country, which is poorer, is at a great disadvantage: not only do the municipalities have fewer resources than those in the north, they also bear the bulk of arrivals. As such, Sicily alone hosts over 40% of unaccompanied minors. After three years of back and forth, a framework law that will streamline the system is set for a vote in Parliament on 25 October. It is a way to acknowledge politically the massive flows of minors as the norm and not the exception and ensure more protection and better follow-up of young people. Things are changing. Slowly.

“People told me that when we arrived here, things would be easy, recalls Ibrahim, 16 years old. That we could do what we wanted, study, that we would go to school.” The boy is still processing the feeling of disillusion. The slow pace of the procedures does not help: consider family reunification, for example. The wait-time is measured in months, often it takes over a year. And for those who want to work, soon, to pay back a people smuggler or support their family, as is the case for most, the wait is incomprehensible.

So they take off, even at the risk of become clandestine.

The strategies differ depending on the nationality. “Eritreans and Somalis rarely stay longer than a few days, notes a youth worker. These are long-standing and very organised migrations. The children already know when they arrive where they will find the contact person for the next part of the journey. As for Egyptians…it depends.

“I ran away from the hospital.”

In front of the procession of buses at the station in Catania, Sicily, a small group of Eritreans kill time around a bench. A pale 17-year old boy sitting cross-legged on the ground is leading the conversation. Biniam arrived only a few days ago and just ran away from the hospital he was sent to. On his skinny wrist still hangs the paper bracelet with his name and blood type. “Do you know where I can get a coat? We’ll sleep somewhere on the grass tonight, but it gets cold at night.”

He has a brother in The Netherlands – or an uncle, it’s not very clear. In Rome, a “friend” is going to help him. He is adamant: he must go to Rome. As quickly as possible. But first, he needs a jacket for the night. He is waiting for “the Oxfam people” so that he can get one of the backpacks they hand out to migrants. “They’ll surely have a jacket for me.”

The “Oxfam people”, Andrea and Chiara, are talking a little farther away, visibly preoccupied. Biniam’s situation, and that of another teen accompanying him, Habtcom, presents them with a dilemma: the bags containing an arrival kit (towel, soap, socks, toothbrush, city map, etc., but no jacket) are exclusively intended for adults. “It’s important that we not substitute ourselves for reception centres”, explains Andrea.

Except that the two frail boys, if they are telling the truth, have no centre. They only have this idea of following the group of adult Eritreans to the park where they sleep. With night falling, it is time for a decision: OK for the bags, on the condition that Biniam and Habtcom spend the night at the emergency centre a few blocks away. The teens nod in agreement, repeat the address like good pupils, before taking off in the direction of the soup kitchen.

Chiara and Andrea, from Oxfam, deplore the lack of follow up: “Most minors will vanish into thin air.”

“Many unaccompanied minors hang around here during the day, explains Andrea as he watches the two silhouettes walking away. This is where they’ll be able to catch the bus north when they’ve got the money for the bus fare. We always tell them that there are legal solutions for them to reunite with their family in another country, that they will be better taken care of in reception centres. There is almost no way to follow up on them, but we mustn’t kid ourselves: most will vanish into thin air.”

In Rome, children on the street

Yonas tried playing by the rules of the system. A little bit. The 17-year old Eritrean is looking to join his brother, who has been living in Finland for two months now. A month went by, then a second. In the meantime, no file has been established for the boy, and he has not seen a translator. Two months spent trapped by his language, doing nothing.

“There is a feeling of urgency among all these young people: you must do things quickly, be the first one. They have the idea that with each day that passes, their odds of moving on to the next step have decreased, says Valentina Aquilino, coordinator for Civico Zero, a Save the Children project that helps unaccompanied minors that are in transit or living in Rome. And they don’t have faith in the system. Their understanding of what is going on should not be underestimated: the slow pace of procedures, the hostility of European governments towards them, tightened border controls, Brexit, etc.”

So without a ticket, he boarded a train for Milan, where he knew where to find a contact person. The police got him. He was scared, but he was just kicked off the train. The next train went to Rome. So Rome it was.

And the danger of being on the street.

Unlike other large cities in the north, the Italian capital refuses to set up a reception centre system for migrants in transit who do not intend to seek asylum. For a little over a year, a citizens’ association has been compensating as best as it can by distributing hot meals, blankets, and offering a semblance of shelter near the Tiburtina train station where migrants congregate. But after being first expelled from their premises, then from the back alley where a makeshift operation pursued the effort, the volunteers now play a cat and mouse game with the police each night, as they come to disperse any gathering.

Near the train station, dozens of small groups of two or three migrants roam around carrying bags that contain their meagre belongings. Half are minors or very young adults, some barely pubescent. Two days earlier, they were able to sleep in the basilica garden, then on the lawn in front of the metal gate. For now, all reception centres are at capacity.

Italian authorities estimate that there are 6,357 unaccounted for minors. Although this number must be put in perspective, as some may re-enter the system by re-registering under another name in a northern city, it gives an idea of the magnitude of the phenomenon and the poor quality of the follow-up.

“We estimate that half of the children that we see passing through present a specific vulnerability: a health problem, a psychological problem, a situation where they are being exploited, or a learning difficulty – which is a real problem in a country where they do not speak the language, explains Valentina Aquilino. But what is important to understand is that ALL are very vulnerable. They are all under the control of the people smugglers, who have complete power over them.”

Exploitation, criminality…

Originally, these big cities were only passing-through points. Two days, one week maximum, the time to find some money and the contact person for the next part of the journey. But with the increased border controls, passing through has become much more difficult, and more expensive. “Young people now stay several weeks, sometimes months”, points out Michele Prosperi of Save the Children.

And what’s at stake is money.

In the best-case scenario, the family back home or a relative sends them some. In Yonas’s case, it’s his brother. But having barely arrived in Finland, he has not yet been able to come up with the entire amount. Then the boy will need to find a person he can trust – an adult with papers – to retrieve the transferred money. With the risk that this person will demand a commission… or take it all. “And if the family does not have the means, the children must turn to the underground economy,” explains Marco Cappuccino, the coordinator for the Civico Zero network, which is also present in Milan and Turin. Depending on the urgency and the amount necessary, this will involve work paid under the table for a ridiculously small amount, petty criminal acts, drug sales and, in rarer cases, prostitution. “For fieldworkers, it’s touchy work. Earning the trust of young people requires time, sensitivity. It also involves keeping a clear distance from institutions.“ The objective of Civico Zero is to operate in this risk zone. Quickly providing a solution to basic needs: providing a safe place during the day, information on their legal rights, a place to talk, medical care, etc. And only when a situation seems to be critical do we alert social services or the police.” Since the start of the year, the centre has seen over 1,200 children come through its doors. And the same observation is made as elsewhere: minors are getting younger and younger.

Taha, “everyone in Sicily knows him now”.

In the San Giovanni reception centre, in Catania, he’s a real dynamo. He yacks all the time, turns around, nabs a camera, hugs a teacher, focuses on his pictures, asks a question, comes back… Youth workers have stopped running after him. “Taha!” Since arriving in Sicily when he was 13, Taha has made the rounds of reception centres. He ran away each time. Except here.

“Arriving in Italy was very tough on him, explains Glaoco La Martina, the director of the cooperative that manages the centre. He was very scared. One night, while staying at a reception centre, he ran off to steal a small rescue boat. He wanted to return to Egypt. He was found by fisherman in the open sea, the next day.”

The staff at Cooperativa Prospettiva was able to locate his older brother, also a minor. Taha left to be with his brother… and things did not turn out well. He ran away and returned to Catania.” But we had no more room for him here so we sent him to another centre. Each time, he held out one, two days. Everyone in Sicily knows him now, even the railway police.”

Before Europe, working to death in Libya

Bakary and Alpha crossed over together from Libya on 7 August. They travelled on a small inflatable dinghy in which people smugglers had crammed in 126 persons. They talk about their life in Libya.

“We were picked up with other Senegalese to go find gold in the Sahara”, relates Bakary. He was 14 when he started working in Libya. “For three months we dug holes in the sand, 25, 30 metres deep. We didn’t find anything. Afterwards, I stayed to work as a day labourer to pay for the crossing (815 euros).” They were exhausting construction site jobs that paid 4 to 10 euros a day. Fifteen euros for the most physically demanding and most dangerous. Daily life in Libya meant a constant fear of being beaten, arrested or killed. “There is no government over there, it’s just terrorists. Even children are armed.”

“Shortly after my arrival, they caught me and I spent three months in prison, explains Alpha. Then I started working a little again. One night, Libyans attacked the camp where I lived with other workers. They were shooting at everybody… I was living with two friends, brothers. They died.”

Karamo (The Gambia, 18 years old)

Karamo is 18. He has been in Italy for over three years now, he’s had time to integrate. Does he have friends? He thinks about it a little. “When I feel sad, I go see these boys in the city. They stayed at the centre too but are a little older than me and live outside now. They’re also from The Gambia. So I ask them to tell me about my country. I was 8 or 9 when I left – first for Senegal and then the neighbouring countries. I have some memories but it’s all very vague. When I listen to them talk about The Gambia, it’s as if I’m reconnecting with who I am, a little bit.”

By the end of the year, Karamo should be done with nautical school in Catania – he’s at the top of his class. He’ll be able to work as a ship mechanic. “I always wanted to be a sailor, travel. Travel especially, in fact. We’re learning, at least as much as in school. I think I’ll like it.”

Yonas: “I don’t even have a dollar left”.

Yonas, 17, has a sentence written on his forearm, rough lines like a marker, but no, it’s a tattoo: “I love you mam”. “I left home when I was 15. The first months in Ethiopia were horrible. I missed my mother so much. I wanted to go back, but my friends convinced me to keep going. That’s when they gave me that tattoo.”

His mother and three sisters stayed in Eritrea. His father has been on active duty fulfilling his military service obligation… since 1998. His father is there on his hand, in a tattooed symbol that represents the first letter of three first names: his own, his father’s and his best friend’s.

“I feel stronger now that I’m older. So things are better. I want to be able to help my family, and soon.” The trip cost his family and community a fortune: 1,600 dollars to reach Sudan, then another 1,600 to go to Libya and 2,200 for Italy. “I don’t even have a dollar left.”

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La Repubblica: In Belgium, each unaccompanied refugee minor receives the assistance of a guardian

Article by Paolo Brera (28/10/2016)

Belgium could teach other countries a lot on the subject of taking in minors. Our detailed investigation on the whereabouts of unaccompanied minors in Europe.

Like Romulus and Remus with the Tiber River and the she-wolf, these children saved from the waters have had to fend for themselves among wolves. And just like Rhea Silvia, the vestal virgin killed for having conceived after being raped by a god, their parents also experienced tragic stories. Khorched, a handsome boy with gentle eyes and the build of a boxer, was saved by his mother, who hid him from his Taliban father before he had a chance to make him disappear, like his brother: “He had taken me to a madrasa, a Koranic school, where I was to learn to pray and make myself explode with an explosive belt. Mum entrusted me to the neighbour, imploring him to pay the people smugglers so that they would take me as far away as possible”, he explains. He was 12 at the time. Today, he is 18. He has started working and his daughter is due to be born in a few days.

“The first thing to do is learn German”, explains Ali, an Afghan lighting technician at a local amateur theatre who, after having lived as a refugee in Iran, arrived in Bremen (north-west Germany) fourteen months ago with his older brother. “In Turkey, I worked 15 hours a day on a farm”, he complains, while showing the middle finger of his right hand: “It was cut while I was cleaning one of the machines”, an incident that marked the beginning of his journey. “My mother paid the mafia 1000 euros and they put me on a small boat to Greece with 40 other people. It was hell”, he relates.

Ali just turned 18. He has “finally” been able to leave an old hotel turned into an apartment building for 120 other refugee minors, and begin living in a flat he shares with two German students from the University of Bremen. “This is my home from now on”, and he looks around him through his dark glasses. Similarly, for the most part, the tens of thousands of young people who arrived alone in Germany between 2015 and 2016 have already resigned themselves to this idea. Going back is not part of their plans.

Who are they?

His story, like that of little Lision, 9 years old, who arrived in Belgium just before the bombs exploded at the airport and in the metro, and who on that bloody day exclaimed, with a terrified look on his face, “there are Taliban here too?”, will perhaps help people understand who these children are, who land alone on European coasts, as we watch them, moved and afraid at the same time. We all remember that boy, 17 years old, Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, who, with bulging eyes, announced his imminent martyrdom before attacking five people with a machete on board a train on the Treuchtlingen-Würtzburg line in Germany. He too was an “unaccompanied minor”. But perhaps we should especially remember boys like Amin, who were not spared during the war, who arrived as furious and aggressive as mistreated kittens, and yet who blossomed here, in Brussels, like the flowers that bring colours to Flanders in the spring. Having already completed a degree, Amin is currently pursuing a master’s in civil engineering. Amin is a happy man and a person who only wishes to prove himself, and no longer be seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

“I left Jalalabad in 2011”, relates Khorched in a small room of Mentor Escale, an NGO that takes care of child refugees by helping them become independent adults before the Belgian social assistance system, although solid, abandons them, “and I didn’t really understand what was going on. I had never been to school, my dad did not want me to go, but one day he told mum that I was old enough and that the time had come to take me. None of us knew that he was a Taliban. He entrusted me to another Taliban, who made me get into his pick-up truck while complimenting my father: “you were right to bring him, well done”, he said to him. My father and the Taliban brought me to Chenury, a small village in the mountains. They were all wearing long white robes; there were weapons everywhere.”

In the madrasa, the Koranic school, “We were forced to pray all day, and while praying, they taught us how to make ourselves explode. I slept on the ground with four other boys, and they made us recite the Koran from dawn. They explained that we had to engage in jihad, the holy war, and get rid of the Americans. One day, they took one of the four boys who slept near me. They made him wear clothing with an explosive belt and he never came back.”

“If you don’t pay me, I’ll cut off your ears and your nose.”

This is what Khorched escaped from, and it was not easy. Just like it was not easy to understand that he was allowed something else: “Every three or four months, they would let us go home for a few days. My mum would ask me how I was doing, and I always told her that everything was fine; but one day, I told her the story about the explosives, and that’s when mum understood. My brother, who was in his twenties, had disappeared a few years earlier”. That day, Khorched’s mother gave him life a second time. “She took me to a neighbour, who entrusted me to a man…..” The story of his trip should be told in a book, not an article in a daily paper: the cold, the borders, Iran, seeing lights that illuminate villages at night for the first time, the snow, the truck beds filled with 40 people where it was impossible to breathe, the poor old man who died of hunger on his donkey, the house in Turkey and the threats against twins, travelling companions, who had only one paid “ticket”: “you, yes. You, no. If you don’t pay, I’ll cut off your ears and your nose.”

All those who drowned, the fear of dying while at sea when the waves tipped the boat and we grabbed a floating tree trunk. Finally, Greece. “Eight months in Athens, then Patras”, the failed attempt to leave on a boat, hiding in a trash can, and, finally, the deadly embrace with steel beneath a truck bed. Here we are in Italy. “Jump as soon as it stops after it leaves the harbour, I had been told. But it wasn’t stopping, and I couldn’t take it any longer. So I started pounding under the truck so that he would hear me, and he came to look. The driver was furious, he hit me, but I fled.” Then, the train, then: “in Paris, I met boys who wanted to go to Belgium, they said life was good there. So I joined them.”

Others could learn a lot from Belgium.

It was in Brussels that he was taken in by the social network for children arriving without their parents, put in place by this small country shaken by terrorism (a country which fortunately persists in wanting to improve this network). Despite the colossal town-planning mistakes made in the past (such as the terrible ghettoisation of second-generation immigrants in Islamised neighbourhoods such as Molenbeek, where the jihadists who bloodied Paris lived), and even if discrimination (in opportunities for employment, for example) is a fact of life, Belgium could teach other countries a lot on the subject of taking in minors.

“In six weeks, explains Jean-Pierre Luxen, director of Fedasil, the federal agency that manages asylum applications, we guarantee all minors access to school, even those who have never gone to school. We offer them a place to sleep, medication, psychological support, legal protection and training. We welcome them in special classes to teach them French or Flemish, and after a year, we integrate them into regular classes. Each unaccompanied minor is assigned a guardian who takes care of his education and helps him resolve all the problems he encounters”. Becoming a guardian requires taking a two-month training course: “My spouse’s sister also became a guardian”, adds Mr Luxen. It is the guardian’s responsibility to accompany the child before a court, if he has problems. “Unfortunately, that is not unusual. Problems with the police on weekends, for example, are much more frequent than we would like.” These desert flowers must have their thorns handled delicately and with know-how. That is why the human and professional side of guardians, their training and their availability, are one of the key elements of the system. Many children in fact find themselves alone in a system that tends to push them as soon as possible towards autonomy, with the help of guardians for whom this work is only paperwork among other paperwork.

Explosion in numbers

The explosion in numbers during the crisis last year seriously tested the system. The record for arrivals occurred in December, a few months after the great exodus on the Balkan Road, taking account of the time necessary to arrive and be intercepted: 725 children arrived alone at that time. Then came the agreement with Turkey on migrant flows: since then, the decrease has been steady: 201 children in January, 64 in May and 43 in August.

The Belgian system has developed a reception procedure consisting of three phases. The first one, named “observation and orientation”, only lasts a few weeks and serves to identify the child, evaluate the conditions in which he is in, and orient him towards the best available solution. The second consists of sending him to a specialised centre, if he is very young or has serious problems, or to a collective reception centre – centres where minors are free to come and go as they please, but where they are asked to follow group rules, under the supervision, more or less close and effective, of adult youth workers for a stay “of six months maximum, except for special situations”. The third phase still needs to be put in place: it is an invitation to spread their wings, which for the moment often means a kick in the backside: a check of about 800 euros per month to pay rent and get by on their own, until they turn 18, and while they wait for refugee status to be granted. Can you imagine your son or daughter, obliged to figure everything out by him or herself at 16, in a foreign country light years away from what he or she is used to and where he or she doesn’t even understand the language? Well, all these children have no choice. And all those whose asylum application is declined will need to make a choice, once they become adults, to flee and become clandestine, or return home, with help from social assistance services which provide them with a small sum to help them get started on the job market.

 It was to avoid the “kick in the backside” effect that wealthy foundations, such as the King Baudouin Foundation, related to the royal family in name only, decided to invest a fortune for the benefit of unaccompanied minors; these organisations hope to turn them into a real resource, like Amin, the engineer, rather than a problem needing to be solved through prisons and clandestine mosques. Associations such as Mentor Escale or Minor Endako are excellent examples of communities through which Europe puts its best face forward. The first is a meeting point, where boys and girls learn about the present and meet the future: if Belgians already have trouble figuring things out, between housing assistance and administrative paperwork, imagine a young boy from Afghanistan (the most represented country of origin by far this year in Belgium, followed by Guinea, Somalia and Morocco).

And help to deal with the bureaucracy in order to obtain financial assistance from the social services, to find a doctor or learn to manage a budget, practice sports or learn to play an instrument. Just seeing them dance in the living room, a sea of smiling faces, or struggling with the octopus and spices boiling in the cooking pot, is enough to understand the inevitable difference there is compared to State centres such as the Petit Chateau, the huge centre directly managed by Fedasil and which receives up to 900 persons on the bank of the canal that separates the centre of Brussels from Molenbeek, while doing its best to separate unaccompanied children from families and persons who came alone. However, only the most difficult cases, at the end of the first phase, are sent to excellent establishments such as Mentor Escale, which sometimes organises a “Citizenship Week” during which the children are taught “cultural differences, rights and duties, household management and transport, school, and we finish with the city game: locate and discover interesting places”. There, then, is the third phase: learning to do things for yourself, but with the help of NGOs largely financed by foundations, and also finding a family with whom to learn from for a bit until the children have become perfectly self-sufficient. Belgian citizens, European citizens.

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El Païs: Germany moving towards the integration of refugee minors

Article by Belen Dominguez Cebrian (28/10/2016)

Host families, guardians, work placement, flat-shares, such are the methods civil society has found to promote the coexistence of Germans with asylum seekers across the country. Against the backdrop of the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, the concept of integration has penetrated German civil society like a vaccine, in spite of exceptions, mostly in the eastern part of the country. The country received 890,000 asylum applications in 2015 alone, and 210,000 in 2016. According to the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), 52,000 are minors who crossed this year, some using only the Balkan Road, others surviving the immensity of the Mediterranean. According to the Federal Statistical Office, Germany last year took charge of 42,300 minors who fled their country alone. After living in a completely foreign land for a year, the youngest only have one concern: providing for their future.

“The first thing to do is learn German”, explains Ali, an Afghan lighting technician at a local amateur theatre who, after having lived as a refugee in Iran, arrived in Bremen (north-west Germany) fourteen months ago with his older brother. “In Turkey, I worked 15 hours a day on a farm”, he complains, while showing the middle finger of his right hand: “It was cut while I was cleaning one of the machines”, an incident that marked the beginning of his journey. “My mother paid the mafia 1000 euros and they put me on a small boat to Greece with 40 other people. It was hell”, he relates.

Ali just turned 18. He has “finally” been able to leave an old hotel turned into an apartment building for 120 other refugee minors, and begin living in a flat he shares with two German students from the University of Bremen. “This is my home from now on”, and he looks around him through his dark glasses. Similarly, for the most part, the tens of thousands of young people who arrived alone in Germany between 2015 and 2016 have already resigned themselves to this idea. Going back is not part of their plans.

Entering the job market

Lomine, a 17-year old Algerian, is completing work placements in a Peugeot garage; Ali, the Afghan, in an IT company; Mohamed, in a construction company where he repairs chalet roofs in a small town in Lower Saxony; Omar, in a bakery… “Now that’s integration”, exclaims Uwe Rosenberg, smiling. He is a former postal worker who, since summer 2015, has been investing his retirement in giving back a future to unaccompanied minors, the one that they themselves thought they had lost on the way to the

And the fact is that, according to UNICEF (the UN programme for the protection of children), “[unaccompanied] minors are the ones who, along the way, are at highest risk for abuse. They could fall into the hands of mafia organisations linked to child labour, sexual exploitation or even organ trafficking”. In Germany, according to the most recent official data published in August by the Ministry of Family Affairs, 5,835 minors have been reported missing. Many [of these minors] were probably kidnapped for child labour, sexual exploitation or organ trafficking”, social workers believe.

More than 13 months after the wave of arrivals of families and young people who sought to find refuge in Germany, Uwe has managed to guarantee the future of hundreds of them with organisations such as Seehaus, and projects that the King Baudouin Foundation has around the country. “I visited 100 businesses, one at a time, in Bremen and Lower Saxony to offer the services of the young people who had one job or another in their country of origin”, relates this sexagenarian as he drives through the harbour landscape of the Bremen suburbs. The task “is not an easy one”, he admits, because many employers are prejudiced against foreigners. “But when you see one business take a chance, others follow”, he explains, shedding some light on this whole process. And it was he, an amateur actor, who hired Ali as a lighting technician in his small local theatre.

Maximum integration

Germany sets itself apart. It does not have a Calais like in France, a Molenbeek like in Belgium, nor a Ceuta or a Melilla like in Spain, where forced deportations – illegal in the EU – occur repeatedly each day. On the contrary, the country is rolling out efforts at all levels to be able to use the human capital that these refugees can contribute to growing the Germany economy. Last summer, Chancellor Angela Merkel herself interceded by asking businesses to hire refugees. In the absence of official figures, the result is almost invisible. However, at the grass-roots level of society, small businesses and municipalities, it is more than noticeable.

In Leonberg, a town of 45,000 on the outskirts of Stuttgart where the streets are all but flat, more than 15 families have launched a project that is one of a kind in the country and, probably, in the entire EU. “Germans and refugees living under the same roof”, explains Thomas Röhm, smiling. He is the project head for the Hoffnungsträger Foundation, which has public and private funds totalling over 20 million euros. This father of four, whose children are between three and twelve years old, moved into the first floor of this special building two months ago. An Afghan family of six lives on the same floor. On the landing above lives a Syrian family. In all, 35 people – 18 refugees and 17 Germans – experiment with maximum integration on a daily basis. In the basement, they take two language classes together and in the backyard, the children, intermingled, play and laugh together.

According to one of its residents, the Hoffnungsträger Foundation project is being expanded in the south of the country, despite the obstacles raised against the building of these houses by the xenophobes of Alternative for Germany (AfD, by its German acronym). “We know that there are AfD members and supporters who are attempting to persuade the justice system not to grant us a building permit.”

Searching for families

However, for the youngest, guaranteeing themselves a place in German society constitutes a much greater challenge. Indeed, they need a guardian, someone to guide them, they actually need parents. “They need a family structure” instead of always meeting up among themselves, in centres for minors, where they neither learn the language nor the culture. In Altensteig, a village bordering the Black Forest, Sarah, a young Syrian with a story full of contradictions, has found the starting point to begin her new life. “I want to think like a German. They are very different”, she jokes, admitting that she has had to change her attitude to become “a little more serious”. At this time, she has six more brothers – two Afghans and four Eritreans – and new parents: the Becks: Bärbel, 49, and Martin, 58. Deeply religious and with ten years of experience working in Afghanistan, they manage a house belonging to the Church in this small town of 12,000. The State knows that this is the only way for these minors to become fully-fledged citizens in the future. Thus, it pays the Becks 10,000 to 15,000 euros to take care of each of them, including their health and education.

Seehaus, the organisation led by clergyman Tobias Merckle, finds families who will care for these young people who arrived alone in this foreign land a few months ago. “It is a very significant challenge,” Bärbel points out just before ringing a bell in the kitchen. It’s time to eat and – she says apologetically – “we only speak in English or in German”. Those are the rules.

Like these six children, Haleed (fictional name), 17, now lives with his new family, who is asking for anonymity to protect the minor and the family he still has in Afghanistan. “We saw the problem on television and on our streets and we decided to go to Freiburg [in south-west Germany] so that we could host a minor in our home,” they explain in a room next to the child. “[Hosting] is out of the ordinary, but in the end, everyone accepts it,” says the host father after listing the innumerable obstacles encountered when trying to integrate a 17-year old Afghan into German society: language, religion, food, culture, customs, etc.

In civil society, across the country, the message is similar and Thomas, the leader of this unique coexistence project, sums it up clearly and concisely: “Germans will finally need to understand that we will live with refugees whether we like it or not.”

REFUGEES IN GERMANY (AND IN THE EU), IN FIGURES – B. D. C. (GERMANY)

  • In 2015, over 250,000 migrant children arrived in Italy and Greece. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in Italy, 12,000 were unaccompanied minors.
  • In 2015, 1.26 million first-time applications for asylum were filed in the European Union. Among those were 365,000 for minors under the age of 18, 90,000 of whom were alone, says the UNHCR.
  • In 2016, 70% of children applying for asylum in the EU are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, all of them conflict zones, specifies UNICEF.
  • According to UNICEF, one migrant child out of six in the world lives in Europe. Also, among all the countries with a high number of refugee children in Europe, only Germany and Serbia publish official numbers.
  • At the end of January 2016, 60,000 unaccompanied 16 to 17-year old children arrived in Germany, reveals the Federal Association for unaccompanied refugee minors (BumF). Most came from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia.
  • In 2015, Germany took in 42,300 unaccompanied minors, a 263% increase compared to 2014. 91% were boys and only 3,600 were girls.
  • The German government estimates that 500,000 migrants could reach the country in the next four years.
  • Among all the children who applied for asylum in the European Union in 2015, 25% were from Syria, 18% from Afghanistan and 6% from Iraq. According to the IOM and UNICEF, the others were from Kosovo, Albania and Serbia.

Last August, the Germany Ministry for Family Affairs brought up the disappearance of 5,835unaccompanied minors. However, it later emphasised that this number could be related to duplicates generated during the registration process.

The ideal city for a young refugee

 Germany not only invests in integration, it also rewards it. Last week, Stadtentdecker Merhaba, the organisation where Maria Tramountani and her boss have been working for several months, received the second-place prize from the Renate Lingk Foundation for Childhood in Germany. This award is 25,000 euros they can spend on activities relating to their main task: entertaining the children of refugees with cultural activities in the centre of Stuttgart.

Cinemas, museums, restaurants, parks, etc.: over 40 volunteers devote their free time to showing these young people who fled conflict the positive side of life in a country with a different culture. Opposites in many ways.

Upon receiving the second-place prize of 25,000 euros – first place was 60,000 euros -, the director of the initiative explains that he will invest it in creating and printing a map of Stuttgart showing the favourite places of these young refugees who have almost become family members.

“They will let us know in which neighbourhoods in the city they feel the most comfortable, where they forget their traumatic experiences and what they find most interesting about the culture. With the help of designers and architects from the University of Stuttgart, we will create and print a map. Their map”, relates Maria, the organisation’s spokesperson. “We will print thousands of maps, which they will distribute among their contacts, refugee or not, with the goal of becoming familiar with our city and becoming a part of it”, concludes the project’s director.

News from the ,

Die Welt : “I am so tired of waiting”

Article  by Flora Wisdorff (27/10/2016)

Hamdou, 16, is sitting in a large garden, surrounded by orange trees and lemon trees, a three-story villa rising behind him. A few young people are playing ping pong. Hamdou is pale, with chubby cheeks that make him still look like a child. A Syrian, he has been living for seven months in this shelter operated by the NGO Praksis and located in Mitilini, the capital of the island of Lesbos, with 23 other adolescents. He shares a room, which holds four double beds, with seven other young people. The ceilings of this neoclassical villa are high, and two computers have been set up in the living room. The young people can learn English and Greek, they are seen by a psychologist, and a lawyer provides them with legal assistance for their asylum application. Hamdou was lucky.

When he arrived on the island of Lesbos eight months ago, fleeing the war in Syria, his accommodation was distinctly less pleasant. In the registration camp of the Moria hotspot, just a few kilometres from Mitilini, minors are placed in a closed institution, the “Detention Centre”. “It was like a prison”, relates Hamdou. He had just endured a long and difficult journey. For seven hours, he had walked to the Turkish border, and from there another three days to the Mediterranean coast, where people smugglers brought him to Lesbos on an inflatable boat.

Seventy-five young people currently live behind the walls and fences of this packed camp where, in all, 6,000 refugees live in an extremely small space, 20 per container. In front of each shelter there is only a small yard of gravel, where children and adolescents can move around a little.

When Hamdou lived there in March, he was not allowed to leave the centre. Now, social workers from an NGO can organise excursions for young people once a week, and there are accompanied walks around the camp every day. The atmosphere is very tense. “Here, living conditions are not good, which also affects the psychological condition of the children and young people”, observes Konstantina Belteki, a Praksis social worker. At the end of September, a young boy living here was raped in the camp, and four other young boys were arrested.

Hamdou had to stay there 16 days, others live there for four months. Greek law allows the detention of unaccompanied migrant minors for 25 days maximum, as a “last resort”. According to Konstantina Belteki, this limit is often exceeded.

Giorgos Spyropoulos, who runs the centre in Lesbos, explains that even when children arrive in an open shelter, they often still feel confined. The processing of asylum applications lasts so long that many of them see no end in sight. Young people are affected by this uncertainty even more than adults. Hamdou also finds it difficult to tolerate this situation. “I am so tired”, he says, “so tired of waiting. I am losing so much time here”. Hamdou would like to learn German, because his brother is living in Germany. He filed an application for family reunification, but has still not received any response.

“These are very strong young people.”

 “These are very strong young people, they made it through the dangers of the trip alone. They are able to survive, even despite all the traumatic experiences they have had”, states Mariliz Dialatzi, the psychologist who is seeing Hamdou and the other young people in the shelter. They do not act like typical adolescents, they are much more serious. But the permanent state of frustration is making them lose their minds.

They have a harder time than adults accepting that it’s the end of the road.

 From the beginning of their escape, they have had a clear objective in mind, adds the psychologist, but they are now confronted with a huge obstacle: the processing of the asylum application, which is not moving forward. “Each time they ask why this is taking such a long time, each person, their friends, their lawyers, the asylum departments, give them a different answer. In the end, they do not trust anyone anymore.” It’s a very painful experience. Their vision of their future disappears, many become depressed or harm themselves.

EU Member States could help minors by giving them priority when they are grouping refugees from Greece. In fact, 64,000 refugees should have already been sent to other EU countries to relieve Greece. Up until now, there have only been 4,000, among which only 75 unaccompanied minors. Germany only welcomed four. “Member States must accelerate the speed of transfers and give priority to children and unaccompanied minors”, says the European Commission. Human Rights Watch, but also Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders, also think that family reunification requests filed by minors must be processed on an expedited basis.

This would free up spaces in centres in Greece.

At the same time, the conditions of accommodations on site must be improved, emphasise human rights organisations. It was for this, among other reasons, that the European Union made 115 million euros available to Greece in September. Thanks to these funds centres are currently being expanded, but often this involves temporary accommodation. To go faster, priority is given to building separate protective zones within camps to house minors and provide care from social workers 24 hours a day.

“Creating the most accommodations possible is one of our greatest challenges”, explains Galit Wolfensohn from UNICEF, an organisation for the protection of children. From New York, she was sent to Athens to help the Greek government improve its infrastructure. The priority is to give children and young people living in centres the protection and assistance they need, such as psychological counselling, for example. UNICEF is also working with Greek authorities to create structures that will make it possible to take in children and young persons for the long-term; for example, by living with a host family.

According to Galit Wolfensohn, the Greek legal guardian system also needs to be reformed. That’s because prosecutors, who overnight become the guardians of a large number of refugee minors, are overwhelmed. Often, they do not even meet the children one on one, write the experts at Human Rights Watch, and many young people do not even know they have a guardian. EU rules nevertheless require that a guardian be appointed within five days after the application for asylum.

There too, improvements must be made in the future: EKKA, the authority under the Ministry of Social Affairs responsible for refugees, wishes to register, train and evaluate legal guardians. “The Greek authorities acknowledged that action had to be taken”, affirms Galit Wolfensohn, the expert from UNICEF.

For Ahmed, the Syrian who spent 40 days in detention and now lives in a centre in Athens, this is no longer important. Things have finally changed for him. For a few weeks now he has known that he will be able to join his brother in Birmingham, as the British have authorised his family reunification application. They have not seen each other in two years. What will he want to do then? Learn English, he says. For now, he does not have any other projects, he adds, a smile on his lips.

 

News from the ,

Die Welt: Prison time for unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece

Article by Flora Wisdorff  (27/10/2016)

Specialised establishments are overwhelmed. The authorities and NGOs are doing everything they can, under difficult conditions, to improve conditions. This is part two in our series of exclusive reports on migrant minors.

When Ahmed set foot in Greece, he immediately felt safe. The last thing this young 17-year old Syrian expected was to find himself in prison. Yet that is what happened. A few steps from the Macedonian border, close to Idomeni, he was stopped by the Greek police. They took him to a prison where he was detained with adults for 40 days. “One day, I wanted to watch television, like the adults. All of a sudden, the guards grabbed me and led me to an interrogation room. They yelled at me, hit me in the back.” Today, he still does not know the reason for this punishment.

“Why was I locked up? “

 “No one explained to me why I was locked up”, states this Syrian, who has been living in a centre in Athens since March. This adolescent with the slender frame comes from Daraa, in the south of Syria. Before the war, his parents fled to Lebanon, and his brother to the United Kingdom. “I was alone and I wanted to find my brother”. At that time, in February, the border was still open.

According to Greek law, when the police stop an unaccompanied refugee minor, the police become responsible for him until a spot in a suitable centre becomes available. Yet, centres are at capacity. That’s why, supposedly for their own protection, minors are first taken by the police to closed institutions and must often live alongside adults. There are currently 1,100 slots in centres adapted to the needs of minors travelling alone, but at the same time 2,500 young people are awaiting housing in Greece, according to the numbers from local authorities. The “chronic shortage of suitable centres” creates a situation where children must “endure prolonged arbitrary detention”, “often in degrading conditions”, revealed the Human Rights Watch report published last September. In mid-October, 381 unaccompanied minors were living in detention centres, often for months, according to Human Rights Watch, a human rights organisation. Thirteen of them were even being officially temporarily detained in a police station. Another 1,246 lived in precarious camps or centres with nationals of their country of origin, without any protection or care. Seventy-nine percent of them come from Syria, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Especially vulnerable

Most are young people, but children are also among them. One unaccompanied minor out of five is under 14. Foreign unaccompanied minors are considered to be especially vulnerable. Without protection or care, they quickly fall victim to sexual violence, criminal networks and human trafficking. Human Rights Watch considers that it is vital not only that they be able to live freely, but especially that they benefit from psychological counselling and legal aid, and that they have the possibility of engaging in recreational activities. However, it appears this is often not the case. Most have not even met their guardian yet, observed the human rights organisation.

Other organisations could not find harsh enough words to describe the situation: Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and the Greek NGO Praksis highlighted in a joint report that Greece was failing in its mission to allow minors to enjoy their fundamental rights. The European Commission also finds the situation problematic: Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, recently asked during his State of the Union speech that the EU and Greece “take swift and effective measures to protect unaccompanied minors. Should Europe fail to do so, it would betray its historic values”.

But why specifically is the question of refugee minors in Greece now coming up again in the news? Simply because the problem has become particularly blatant over the course of the summer. Prior to March, most minors – but also adults and families – passed through Greece to go directly to central Europe. But since the closure of the Balkan Road in the spring and the entering into force of the EU-Turkey agreement, asylum-seekers who arrive on the Greek islands in the Aegean cannot continue on their way, and children and adolescents, like the others, remain stuck in Greece, where centres to accommodate them have quickly filled up. The Greek authorities, already overloaded, must now take care of this group, which must be looked after in a specific way, and they are unable to.

News from the ,

Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants’

Led by Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria

CLA’s project seeks to increase the accountability and transparency of decision-making on the administrative detention of migrants in Bulgaria. Initial detention orders are issued on the basis of the discretion of public authorities. The high number of detention orders, the length of detention and the lack of the use of alternatives to detention raise concerns about whether the proportionality principle and the obligation to consider individual circumstances demanded (Directive 2008/115/EC and Directive 2013/33/EC, currently transposed into Bulgarian law) are applied when decisions are made.

CLA will gather information about the situations of migrant detainees through past case law and interviews which will be analysed and made publicly available. In addition to more transparency, CLA will aim to improve the accountability of detention practices and decisions by sharing the findings with institutional decision-makers and providing them with recommendations for principled decision-making in line with international and European law. This project will provide clarity into detention practices and decisions and, in the longer-term, this should lead to the decrease in use of detention as a migration management policy.

Free to Go: Detention as a last, not a first resort

Led by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

The main objective of this project is to promote the introduction of alternatives to detention of migrants in Bulgaria in order to counteract its widespread use as a result of the increase in immigration and the unprepared reception in Bulgaria.

This project involves an overall mapping exercise of national detention practices and strategic litigation of a significant amount of cases in order to establish judicial practice challenging the legality of detention on account of a lack of prior consideration of alternatives. The project will also include research on transferable good practices from other EU countries, and how it could fit into the Bulgarian context. Finally, BHC will seek to trigger an inter-institutional debate in order to introduce realistic alternatives through an Alternatives to Detention Core Group involving the judiciary, officials from different parts of the administration, and civil society organisations.

Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants

Led by Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation

This project aims to improve the judicial control of the detention process in order to reduce the use of immigration detention, to ensure it is used as a tool of last resort, and that, when applied, it abides by the European Convention on Human Rights and EU legislation. The project also seeks to raise awareness around the way in which the EU legislation and international human rights obligations are implemented in the Bulgarian context.

BLHR will conduct a comprehensive review of the recent case law of Administrative Court Sofia City, Administrative Court in Haskovo and the Supreme Administrative Court on migration detention, focusing on the scope and quality of judicial control, contradictive jurisprudence and its compliance with the international human rights standards. The results will be summarised in a report, including recommendations and proposals for amendments of relevant legal norms or their implementation.

HEAR – Hearing Entails Awareness and Rights

Led by Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR)

The right to be heard is an integral element of the right to good administration and the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Articles 41 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). In cases of court reviews of detention orders and the length of detention it is ‘not an obligation’ according to current Bulgarian law and practice that the detainee participates in the hearing.

This Project aims to enhance the right to be heard for immigration detainees in the process of their detention decision and review by raising awareness and disseminating evidence-based information to decision-makers, and by advocating for the introduction of procedural legal guarantees in the system that oblige decision-makers to pay attention to the addressees of detention orders.

In order to achieve these aims, the project HEAR collects evidence on problems and promising practices in the judicial review process of immigration detention. The findings will be published in a Handbook on the Right to be Heard for the use of practitioners to mitigate misinformed decision making and its consequences. A web tool will ensure the distribution of the findings and help raising awareness on the issue of concern.

Promoting Alternatives to Detention

Led by Greek Council for Refugees

This project’s main objectives are to dissuade the use of immigration detention to a tool of last resort and to promote alternative practices of migration management. This will be achieved through the drafting of policy briefs, trainings and roundtables with decision-makers in the immigration detention process, and awareness raising to the general public.

The long-term impact of this project is to increase awareness and knowledge on immigration detention and put pressure through this knowledge base to find suitable alternatives to be established in Greek policies.

Monitoring Immigration Detention

Led by AITIMA

The aim of this project is to increase the transparency and accountability of immigration detention practices in Greece by clarifying how the state utilizes immigration detention, and to document inconsistencies between the practice of the Greek authorities on immigration detention and national, international or EU law. Particular attention will be paid to the announcements made by the new government with regard to an overhaul of the system and the introduction of alternatives.

This project draws on experience and information gained through monitoring visits to immigration detention centres and the provision of free legal aid. Reports summarising the results will be submitted to relevant international institutions as well as the wider public. Through this, ATIMA will contribute to the general public’s knowledge of immigration detention and aims to convince decision-makers to use detention only as a tool of last result.

Fostering Alternatives to Detention for Children

Led by METAction

This project aims to create and implement a pilot foster care system as an alternative measure to the detention of unaccompanied and separated children (UASCs) in Greece, which would both, address the best interests of the child and be more cost-efficient than the present reception practices, including the use of detention.

METAction will review two good practice models of foster care systems set by other EU countries and will develop a pilot scheme adapted to the Greek context. The organisations can draw on the country’s largest pool of translators comprising of over 300 individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds which will enable them to find foster families where UASCs can speak their mother tongue and find a familiar cultural environment. Based on the experience with the carefully monitored pilot placement of 5 children in foster families, METAction will advocate for the introduction of foster family care as an alternative to detention in the Greek foster family and immigration reception system.

Promoting and Establishing Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Cyprus

Led by Future Worlds Centre

The project seeks to identify pragmatic alternatives to detention and present solid recommendations for the adoption of these alternatives into the current system in Cyprus. In order to advocate for appropriate alternatives, Future Worlds will undergo a detailed mapping exercise of a variety of aspects determining immigration detention and, drawing on existing EU-wide research and practices on alternative measures, will identify alternatives to detention that are appropriate and realistic in the Cypriot context. The information gathered through research, interviews with migrant detainees and roundtable discussions with stakeholders will be compiled in a report which will propose concrete recommendations and solid alternatives to detention.