Latest statistics and graphics on refugee and migrant children
Latest information on children arriving in Europe
Refugee and migrant children in Europe and Central Asia by country
Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe overview of trends (January-December 2019)
The demography of those arriving
Gender and age breakdown of accompanied and unaccompanied and separated children by country of arrival
Overall, the proportion of boys among arrivals remains high - nearly two-thirds of children who arrived through various Mediterranean routes in 2019 were boys. yet, the proportion of girls arriving to Greece in the same period was significant - 41% of all child arrivals. This relates to the much higher proportion of girls among accompanied children as compared to children that travel unaccompanied. Sex disaggregated data on UASC arriving to Spain is not available.
*For Italy, the calculation is based on the estimated 6,054 UASC registered in reception in 2019 according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.
The majority of UASC who arrived in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Malta between January and December 2019 were between 15 and 17 years old (80% overall). Age disaggregated data on UASC arriving to Spain and Cyprus is not available.
Source: Hellenic Police, EKKA, Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on UASC in reception, Spanish Ministry of 0-4 years 5-14 years 15-17 years Interior and Social Policy, Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees , Maltese Ministry for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement (MHAS).
Reception on arrival as of December 2019
- An estimated 42,500 children were present in Greece as of 31 December 2019, up from 27,000 in December 2018.
- Of all children present in Greece, 48% were living in urban areas (apartments, hotels, shelters for UASC, self-settled, etc.); 25% were in accommodation sites and 1% were in safe zones for UASC.
- A further 26% of all children were found in Reception and Identification Centres - twice as many when compared to December 2018. This included 1,809 unaccompanied children (nearly three times more when compared to December 2018).
- Out of the 4,815 unaccompanied children present in Greece, 42% (2,034) were in appropriate accommodation for UASC (1,286 in long-term accommodation and another 748 in temporary accommodation for UASC. This represented an increase of 14% compared to December 2018 following the creation of additional accommodation for UASC in Greece. yet, the increased overall caseload meant that as of December 2019 more than half of all UASC in Greece (2,781) remained outside appropriate accommodation, including 1,045 UASC living in informal/insecure housing conditions. Another 195 UASC (double compared to December 2018) also remained in protective custody/detention due to lack of alternatives.
- A total of 6,054 children (95% boys and 5% girls) were present and registered in different types of accommodation at the end of December 2019. This is a 44% decrease compared to December 2018 – mainly due to the decrease in sea arrivals, as well as adolescents reaching adulthood.
- Most of all registered UASC at the end of December 2019 were in shelters run by State authorities and non-profit entities (85% of the total in second-level reception centres and 9% in first-level reception centres), while 6% were in private accommodation (family care arrangements).
- Additionally, 5,383 previously registered UASC were considered to be out of the reception system but still under 18 at the end of December 2019 (in December 2018, this number stood at 5,230).
- As of the end of December 2019, nearly 140 children, including 33 UASC were accommodated in reception facilities in Sofia and southern Bulgaria. This represents a 36% decrease in the number of children present in the country compared to December 2018. Most children came from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.
- In 2019, with the financial support provided by the EU, IOM established one safety zone for unaccompanied asylum- seeking children in Sofia. During the year, 196 children were accommodated in the facility: most of them (191) were aged 14 or older, and only 5 were below 14 years of age. Most of them originated from Afghanistan and a small number from Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- At the end of December 2019, there were 12,417 UASC accommodated in specialized government-run reception centres across the 17 Autonomous communities and the 2 autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. This is a 10% decrease compared to December 2018, when 13,796 UASC were in reception centres.
- The regions hosting the vast majority of UASC are Andalusia (37%), Catalonia (16%), Melilla (11%), Ceuta and Basque country (6% each). Out of the total UASC in reception, 91% were male and 9% were female. Main nationalities of accommodated UASC (including EU and non-EU nationals) were Morocco (67%), Guinea Conakry (8%), Algeria (5%), Mali (5%) and Côte d'Ivoire (4%).
- A total of 947 children (19% girls and 81% boys) were present in the country as of December 2019, 17% less compared to December 2018, but slightly more compared to the caseload in June 2019.
- With 465 UASC present in December 2019, the proportion of UASC among all refugee and migrant children in Serbia increased to 49%, up from 42% in December 2018.
Asylum applications and decisions
Asylum applications lodged by children, including unaccompanied and separated children, between January and December 2019 – by country of asylum*
In 2019, European countries12 recorded 672,935 new asylum seekers. nearly a third of them (202,945) were children. This represents a slight increase of 6% compared to the same period in 2018 (191,800). Among children, 17,735 were considered UASC while claiming asylum in Europe – 13% less compared to 2018 (20,440).
In 2019, the Syrian Arab Republic continues to be most common country of origin among child asylum seekers, yet it currently represents only 21% of child asylum seekers (compared to 24% in 2018). Other common countries of origin among child asylum seekers include Afghanistan (11%), Iraq (7%), Venezuela (4%), Eritrea (4%), followed by nigeria, Turkey, Colombia and Albania (3% each). Most UASC came from Afghanistan (28%), Pakistan (8%), Syrian Arab Republic (8%), Iraq and Eritrea (6% each).
In general, 45% of all child asylum seekers in 2019 were female, and most of them originated from Syrian Arab Republic (22%), Afghanistan (9%), Iraq (7%), Venezuela (5%), nigeria, Eritrea and Turkey (4% each). Significantly less UASC asylum-seekers were girls (14%).
Similarly to previous years, Germany remained the top destination for refugee and migrant children, registering 35% of all child asylum applications lodged in Europe between January and December 2019 (71,420 children). Other European countries that recorded large numbers of child asylum seekers include France (26,160 children,13%), Greece (25,165 children, 12%), Spain (21,715 children, 11%), and the United Kingdom (10,295 children, 5%). Greece remains the country with the highest number of first-time applicants relative to its population. Rather a different trend was observed among UASC asylum seekers, whose top destinations were the United Kingdom (3,650 children, 21%), Greece (3,330 children, 19%) and Germany (2,690, 15%).
Decisions on child asylum applications
Of all decisions issued in 2019, 59% (101,725) were positive a slight increase compared to 2018 (56% of positive decisions), yet significantly lower as compared to 2017 and 2016, when respectively 63% and 67% of children received positive asylum decisions.