The Plight of Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum


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The media may no longer be covering the plight of migrants seeking entry to Europe or the challenges that this poses for European countries, but that does not mean the issue has gone away. In fact the attached report shows that one aspect, the problem of unaccompanied minors, has increased significantly.

In 2017, 175 unaccompanied minors – children under the age of 18 who are not in the care of a responsible adult – entered Ireland and were referred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. In 2014, the number was 97.

This increase reflects the international trend. In 2017, 31,395 unaccompanied minors lodged an application for international protection in the European Union. This is a 30 percent increase on the number of unaccompanied minors entering Europe since 2014.

Sarah Groarke and Samantha Arnold examine the policies and practices applied to unaccompanied minors in Ireland once their status has been decided and they are either granted permission to remain or are forced to return. Importantly, the report also examines the problems arising from a lack of status.

In Ireland the majority of unaccompanied minors eventually make an application for international protection, however most do not receive a decision on status until they turn 18. This lack of immigration status creates uncertainty for minors and poses many problems for them.  

The report was published in the ESRI Research Series in December 2018.

Read the full report: Approaches to unacompanied minors following status determination in Ireland

John McGeady
OLA Justice Officer
25 February 2019