Hungary How to best protect non-asylum-seeking foreign unaccompanied minors in Hungary

Project : MARIO 13 Mar 2012 asylum best interests of the child children on the move disappearance eu migration policy migration return

2888_marion_workshop2_smallMarch 12, 2012, Budapest, Hungary: Terre des hommes – in the framework of the project Mario – organised a roundtable discussion on the situation and protection needs of non-asylum seeking foreign unaccompanied minors in Hungary. In preparation to the discussion a small research was conducted on the numbers of these minors in Hungary, and the challenges child protection homes face when trying to provide adequate protection for them. According to the research – which will be published shortly – most of the non-asylum seeking unaccompanied minors are accommodated in the border regions with Serbia, Csongrad and Bacs-Kiskun counties, however other county child protection agencies are also receiving migrant children in increasing numbers.

2890_mario_workshop4_smallThere was heightened interest both from child protection homes that are struggling to keep up with the increasing flow and from border guards, the immigration authorities and NGOs to discuss this issue and more than thirty people attended the discussions. While there seem to be a tendency to look at the issue from an immigration policing point of view, Terre des hommes, its partner NGOs and child protection professionals put the focus back on the children, who deserve protection in their best interests. Child protection homes have difficulty in providing culturally adequate food and clothing to the children who are increasingly coming from Muslim countries, while translation and provision of adequate healthcare are burning issues to be solved. Contrary to asylum-seeking unaccompanied minors who are placed in one particular child protection home in Fót, the non-asylum seeking minors are scattered around several ones, where there is no possibility of providing adequate interpretation services for them. In fear of being returned, and not feeling secure, more than 50% of youngsters run away or disappear often with a person – whose degree of relationship with the child cannot be assessed – waiting outside the child protection home to take them further.

The child protection home managers were advocating for more, specialized accommodation places for non-asylum seeking unaccompanied minors, the introduction of appropriate isolation rooms in case the youngsters have communicable deseases, and training for their staff in multi-cultural communication. The representative of the ombudsman’s office pointed out that she is currently working on an enquiry into the Fót center, while her next enquiry will deal with the protection provided to non-asylum seeking foreign unaccompanied minors, so a detailed report can be expected from the Parliamentary commissioner’s office about this issue. [JA]

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