On the occasion of the Autumn plenaries in Vojvodina, a Breakfast Debate will be organised on 27 September on “welcoming unaccompanied migrant children” .
Youth on the move: a current topic
The topic of this Breakfast Debate has been chosen based on exchanges held at the previous plenary meeting in Arad, where several regions expressed their interest in sharing experiences around the unaccompanied migrant children. According to the European Commission, in recent years the number of children in migration arriving in the European Union -many of whom are unaccompanied- has increased in a dramatic way.
A child-rights perspective
The proposal by the President of the AER Committee on Social Policy and Public health Mihai Ritivoiu is to take a child rights perspective for this Breakfast Debate, as all AER members are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For this reason, AER invited the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) to lead the Breakfast Debate. This collaborative fund has considerable experience in supporting civil society projects in the fields of migration and integration. Hearing from their experience, learning about good and bad practices in Europe, will help move the conversation forward. It will also be an opportunity for regions to share their own experiences too and engage in mutual learning.
The European Programme for Integration and Migration
EPIM is an initiative by the Network of European Foundations. As a collaborative fund, EPIM links the resources and expertise of foundations to strengthen the role of civil society in building inclusive communities and in developing humane and sustainable responses to migration, based on Europe’s commitment to universal human rights and social justice.
EPIM supports civil society in building effective pan-European coalitions and in shaping pan-European solutions by promoting a constructive interplay between policies and practices at all levels. This is done in domains such as:
- promoting alternatives to immigration detention,
- contributing to the development of humane and effective asylum systems;
- enhancing community cohesion,
- enabling mobile EU citizens to exercise their free movement rights; and
- working with children and youth on the move for their protection and empowerment.
Under its Thematic Fund on long-term prospects and protection of children and youth on the move in Europe, EPIM supports civil society organisations and public bodies -or authorities- seeking to address gaps in policy and practice and the struggle for communities to provide adequate protection as well as long-term perspectives for the life of children and youth on the move in Europe.
The projects EPIM supports seek to strengthen the approach of alternative models of care embedded in the communities and supporting inclusion on an individualised level which is widely recognised as the most beneficial for all children. They also seek systemic impact at policy-level for more comprehensive frameworks addressing children in migration in agendas at national, EU and global level.
Here a brief video that synthesizes how EPIM works:
Mutual learning at the core of better policymaking
AER members exchange experiences to learn from each other and improve regional policies. Mutual learning is at the core of AER’s actions, since its creation and is what makes the network special. While AER members have exchanged about migration long before the Syrian crisis, the topic has received increased atention since 2015
- The December 2015 AER Autumn Bureau focused on “Facing the Migration & Refugee Challenges”. This led to the sharing of experiences from regions along one of the migration routes and the exchange of diverging point of views. Members adopted a declaration stating the need for adequate support and re-affirming the willingness of AER to support its members in this.
- In April 2016 the Committees’ Spring Plenary in Timis (RO) focused on “Communication & actions in times of crisis”. The events aimed at sharing experiences and helping policy makers to fight populist rhetorics, while implementing fair and effective policies.
- In November 2016, in Izmir (TR) the Autumn plenary meetings were an opportunity to further pursue exchanges on topics as varied as migrant entrepreneurship and the health of refugees
- In 2017 AER, together with the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities and 10 other partners, developped a project on the Access to services for Migrants with Disabilities: the AMiD project
- In January 2018 AER organised an event together with Friends of Europe on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which led to a series of Policy Insights and Recommendations
- In March 2018 AER published a handbook with good practices on “Culture for the Inclusion of Refugees and Migrants”, in which are shared AER’s members’ experiences in the use of culture to increase the inclusion of refugees and new arrivals in their regions. This collection of best practices aims to inspire readers and motivate regions to continue exchanging experiences on this important topic.
- On the occasion of the 2018 Bureau and General Assembly in Lillehammer (Oppland, NO) a Task Force on migration, to identify further policy messages and convene advocacy efforts.
The Breakfast Debate on welcoming unaccompanied children serves the same purpose: learning from peers in wider Europe and inspiring policy making in the regions.
Yes, but money
AER strives to facilitate exchanges which provide its members with ideas to inspire and tools to implement. The Breakfast Debate will therefore also provide insights on opportunities for projects both via The European Programme for Integration and Migration and European Union programmes.
The European Commission has for instance recently opened a call for projects on “Care for migrant minors, including unaccompanied minors“. The objective of the call is to finance projects focusing on the exchange of good practices and provision of the necessary training so as to support the implementation, expansion, improvement of alternative care systems (such as family-based care, or foster care, or supervised independent housing arrangements) or of effective alternatives to detention. The deadline for the submission is 31 January 2019. The Breakfast Debate will be an opportunity to discuss potential partnerships too.
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash