Missing Children Europe and its partners have already identified best practices and practical guidelines on how to better cooperate in prevention, response and aftercare of missing unaccompanied children. The next step consists of concretely working towards achieving and standardising these promising practices.
Alongside these projects, efforts need to be made to create a more positive narrative around children in migration. Understanding, concern and empathy from European citizens will help achieve sustainable and durable solutions for unaccompanied children. In Europe, growing anxiety on the impact of globalisation and immigration on populations’ safety, security, cultural identify and jobs has been used by several political movements in order to win elections. This has led to decision makers taking or promoting initiatives that further harm and exploit children. It is therefore important that we work together to engage with these concerns, and use available evidence to counter narratives of polarisation and fear.
These measures/proposed solutions will prove ineffective, and at the very least insufficient, if they are not properly accompanied by legal and policy improvements for children in migration, both at the national and European level. Until recently, there was no European policy framework that ensured a coherent and comprehensive approach to the respect of children’s rights and protection needs in Europe. In April 2017, the Commission eventually issued a communication profiling a comprehensive approach to protect children in migration, taking into account the EU agenda on Migration, the conclusions of the Forum on the rights of the child and the outcome of the Lost in Migration conference (organised by Missing Children Europe) as a starting point. Voices of child rights organisations were finally heard, but much needs to be done in ensuring these words are changed to action. Missing Children Europe and its partners will continue joining forces to monitor its implementation. Analyses and recommendations will be produced on issues that remain of critical importance, such as child protection across borders, including in cases of re-trafficking; quality care and alternatives to detention; the impacts of the EU asylum legislation reform; and the best interest of the child.