Throughout the last decade IOM has acquired an extensive experience in the area related to assistance to UMC. This assistance has taken various forms within the different fields of IOM’s migration-related activities: improving migrant children’s health; resettlement-related activities; reception and integration in the country of destination; assisted voluntary return and reintegration in the country of origin or a third country; family tracing and reunification; collection of operational data and programmatic information; and research and information campaigns.
Similarly, IOM Belgium’s significant experience on and with UMC in the past decade has been built up through the implementation or the contribution to various projects linked to UMC, including research projects. In the last years, the UMC-linked projects implemented by IOM Belgium have been mainly focusing on assisted voluntary return and reintegration as voluntary return can be part of a durable solution if it is in the Best Interest of the Child. These projects include also a Family Assessment component involving the UMC’s family and IOM’s office in the Country of Origin: this assessment presents additional information for the UMC’s legal guardian in Belgium and can help him in determining what the child’s best interest is.
Previous projects of IOM Belgium on UMC:
“Enhancing capacities in EU Member States and third countries to promote durable solutions for unaccompanied minors (through identification of good practices in family tracing and assessments as well as the provision of an enhanced reintegration approach)”
- Duration: January 2013 – September 2014
- Donors: European Return Fund, co-financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
The project’s objective was to contribute to strengthening and building synergies within family tracing procedures and methodologies in the EU Member States and enhancing the sustainable reintegration and family support for unaccompanied minors choosing to return voluntarily to their countries of origin. The project was implemented in five countries of destination: Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and in five countries of origin: Afghanistan, Albania, Iraq, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244/99) and Pakistan.
The project consisted of two phases:
- The first phase, during which good practices and existing methodologies in the field of family tracing and assessments were gathered and innovative methods for family tracing and assessments in five EU Member States and in five countries of origin were explored. Please click here for the compiled report of National Country Reports and Recommendations on Procedures and Good Practices on Family Assessment and Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration for Unaccompanied Minors.
- The second phase, which envisaged the implementation of family tracings and assessments combined with an enhanced reintegration approach in order to assist receiving families as well as to provide reintegration opportunities for the UAMs if voluntary return was deemed to be in the best interest of the child and as such the preferred option. Personal reintegration plans, tailored to the specific needs of the UAMs, were drafted, drawing on the recommendations from the “Life project approach” of the Council of Europe.
The project was co-financed by the European Return Fund, Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
“An enhanced reintegration approach as durable solution for Unaccompanied Minors and former Unaccompanied Minors from Afghanistan and Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) identified in Belgium” (B-Tailored project)
- Duration: January 2013 – June 2014
- Donors: EU Return Fund – National Action 2012 (co-funded by Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum- FEDASIL)
After a pilot project targeting UMC from Morocco, the following project targeted Afghan and Congolese UMC as well as former UMC (up to 21 years old who were identified as UMC on the territory prior to their 18th birthday and who remained in Belgium thereafter). Implemented in close cooperation with the relevant Belgian actors (i.e. FEDASIL and the Guardianship Service), the objective was to strengthen the sustainable reintegration of the UMC and former UMC who wanted to return Afghanistan and DRC.
Through direct collaboration with the IOM Offices in Afghanistan and Congo DRC, the project developed local partnerships with relevant institutional and non-governmental actors in the two countries of origin, lead to the identification and development of reintegration opportunities in the fields of education, training and employment.
Individual city profiles were developed to disseminate accurate information on the actual reintegration possibilities in the different regions in Afghanistan and DRC, so that UMC and former UMC, their guardians and those who work with them (social workers, return counselors, etc.) could be better informed on the current situation and reintegration possibilities in the specific cities/regions of return.
Surveys with UMC were organized in order to allow further insight in the UMC’s migration paths, the possibilities and challenges of staying in Belgium, the prospects and opportunities in the countries of origin and to give a better overview of all options available to them (from possible integration in Belgium to voluntary return and reintegration mechanisms in DRC and Afghanistan).
“Pilot project for an enhanced reintegration approach as durable solution for Moroccan Unaccompanied Minors – and former Unaccompanied Minors –identified in Belgium” (B-Extra project)
- Duration: January 2012 – June 2013
- Donors: EU Return Fund – National Action 2011 (co-funded by Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum- FEDASIL)
The number of unaccompanied minors originating from Morocco and identified on the Belgium territory is high and usually within the top five nationalities among the UAM category. The great majority are boys, aged between 14 to 17 years old, who are not seeking asylum. Most of them have indeed left Morocco because of difficult socio-economic situations and the lack of perspectives they’ll face as young adults in Morocco. However, after some time in Belgium, they are not satisfied either by their current life conditions.
Implemented in close cooperation with relevant Belgian actors (i.e. FEDASIL and the Guardianship Service), the project’s main objective was to assist the UMC (and former UMC between 18 and 21) to develop meaningful and concrete ‘life projects’ that they could implement once back in Morocco, with a view to ensure a successful and sustainable reintegration.
In order to facilitate the building of such reintegration projects, complementary activities were carried out such as:
- Identification and analyze of successful and unsuccessful related initiatives
- Development of synergies with other stakeholders in Morocco: identification of concrete opportunities of partnerships to allow an increased reintegration support in terms of education, training, psychosocial support, shelter and accommodation
- Conduction of family assessments and a better involvement of families in developing the UMC’s Life Project
- Identification of specialized reception facilities and local care mechanisms
- Organization of a study visit in Morocco to allow the Belgian partners to see what options are available, better understand the local context and meet with relevant authorities, organizations and institutions.
- Creation of info-sheets on main Moroccan cities in order to provide comprehensive information on the current situation, available mechanisms and facilities as well as reintegration opportunities
- The AVRR B-Advanced project (01/07/2015 – 30/06/2016) includes assistance to vulnerable cases (including UMC).
- The B-Connected project (01/01/2014 – 30/06/2015) included a sub-section with specific support to UMC from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Morocco and six Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo (UNSC 1244), FYROM Macedonia and Montenegro).
Other “research” projects implemented by IOM Belgium in the past
- “Best practices for a coordinated approach to assist Unaccompanied Minor asylum seekers and former UAMs in EUMS” (CAUAM) (June 2010 – December 2011)
- “Raising Awareness on Unaccompanied Minors (UAMs)’ Rights in Europe by Targeting UAMs through an Info Campaign and Involving them in its Development” (EUAM II) (March 2009 – September 2010)
- “Separated asylum seeking children in EU Member States: an examination of living conditions, provisions and decision-making procedures in selected EU Member States through child centred participatory research” (SEPAC) (January – December 2009)
- “Exchange of information and best practices on first reception, protection and treatment of Unaccompanied minors” (EUAM I) (April 2007 – July 2008)