Tracing UMAs' Families: A Comparative Study of Some European Countries' Practices and Experiences in Tracing the Parents or Caregivers of Unaccompanied Minor Asylum Seekers
Seeberg, Marie L.
Norwegian Social Research
2006, 67 pages
Studies the efforts of European countries to track the families of Unaccompanied Minor Asylum-seekers (UMAs) and discusses the positive and negative impact of family tracing. The increase of UMAs in Europe initiated a project in Norway to trace the families of these children as part of the Norwegian legal code; yet, the project was proving unsuccessful so they sought to look at other European countries for guidance on better methods. An electronic, web-based survey of approximately 40 questions was sent to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK) with a wide variety in the quality and completeness of responses. Results indicated that all of the countries utilize non-governmental organizations, especially the national offices of the Red Cross, to fulfill family tracing functions, and two countries used the International Social Services while others used their embassies in the countries of origin. Strong efforts are made to reunify younger children with families although actual reunifications are very few. For example, Sweden traced the families of ten to fifteen UMAs, yet only six to ten resulted in family reunifications in the countries of origin and the UK reunited sixteen minors between 2001 and 2006. Overall, family tracing is considered important, but the methods and costs vary across European countries.