A new report by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has raised concerns over failures in protection for young refugees entering Europe.
The ‘Integration of young refugees in the EU: good practices and challenges’ report draws on interviews with more than 160 ‘people in need of international protection’ between the ages of 16 and 24 and more than 400 experts and frontline workers in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden. While the report identifies a number of individual examples of good practice in support for the integration of young refugees in Member States, it cautions of the risks of creating a ‘lost generation’ of young people who lose much of their support network as soon as they turn 18.
Nearly two million people received international protection in EU Member States between 2015 and 2018; more than 80% of these recipients were under the age of 34. The FRA’s report examined Member States’ treatment of young refugees, particularly at the two key transitions in the asylum process: the transition from being an applicant for asylum to being a person in receipt of international protection; and a young person’s transition from childhood to officially designated adulthood once they reach the age of 18.
The FRA recommends a number of measures for Member States to improve their facilities for the integration and protection of young refugees, including:
- Accelerating the process of applying for asylum, which currently takes on average two years between the initial application and receiving a residence permit;
- Providing proper housing and education facilities for young refugees;
- Reducing the bureaucracy inherent in family reunification applications; and
- Improving mental healthcare provision for young refugees, many of whom are badly traumatised.
FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty said: “The EU and its Member States work hard to address migration across Europe, facing serious challenges to integrate the arrivals, particularly young people. But these challenges are not insurmountable. Diverse examples highlight how smart and thoughtful policy decisions can go a long way towards overcoming obstacles. Policymakers at both national and EU level need to embrace such strategies to allow this generation become full members of our society.”