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Concerns over care of separated children

Last update - Thursday, May 6, 2010, 13:50 By Catherine Reilly

AN EU ADVISORY body has raised concerns over care provided to asylum-seeking children across Europe.

According to a summary report published by the European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), unaccompanied minors or separated children often live in unsuitable accommodation, including in detention, and frequently lack access to quality medical care and appropriate education.
More than 300 separated asylum-seeking children and adults responsible for their care were interviewed in 12 EU member states as part of the study, which found that children are insufficiently informed about legal procedures, and that processes used to determine their future “often make the children feel insecure and often unprotected or ill-advised”.
“Every year thousands of separated, asylum-seeking children come to the EU,” said FRA director Morten Kjaerum. “The effective protection of these children at EU level should not be delayed.
“It is essential to enhance co-operation between member states, encourage exchange of information and good practices, and reinforce existing protection instruments as soon as possible.”
The report, due out in full next month, recommends that adequate healthcare be guaranteed to all children irrespective of their status, and that they be given a legal guardian.
They should also be provided with enough material support to participate in social life, says the study.
Ireland, which was not among the countries surveyed, has received internal criticism from the Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan for its treatment of separated children. She has said the asylum process “doesn’t take account of their age or vulnerability”.
Additionally, separated teens have regularly been placed in under-supervised hostels by the HSE, though the organisation says it is now phasing out the use of such accommodation.

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