Refugee and migrant children in Europe and Central Asia by country
Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe overview of trends (January-June 2019)
The demography of those arriving
Including accompanied, unaccompanied and separated children (January-June 2019)
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 the first half of 2019 were boys. Yet, the proportion of girls arriving to Greece in the same period was significant - 42% of all child arrivals. This is due to the fact that children arriving to Greece are primarily accompanied, and the proportion of girls among accompanied children is overall much higher as compared to children who travel alone.
* Source: Hellenic Police, EKKA, Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees, Italian Ministry of Interior
The majority of UASC who arrived in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria between January and June 2019 were between 15 and 17 years old (86% overall). Age disaggregated data on children arriving to Spain is not available.
Source: Hellenic Police, EKKA, Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees
Children in Reception as of June 2019
- An estimated 32,000 children were present in Greece as of June 2019, up from 27,000 in December 2018. Of them, 60% live in urban areas (apartments, hotels, shelters for UASC, self-settled, etc.); 26% live in accommodation sites and 1% live in safe zones for UASC7. A further 13% are in Reception and Identification Centres, which is a situation comparable to December 2018.
- A total of 682 unaccompanied children remained in Reception and Identification Centres8 and 139 were in protective custody/detention (up from 86 in December 2018).
- Out of the total 3,868 UASC present in Greece, 1,862 were placed in dedicated accommodation for UASC (1,010 in long-term accommodation and another 852 in temporary accommodation, such as safe zones and hotel facilities) - a slight increase of 6% compared to December 2018. Despite the progress in creating additional accommodation, however, the increased caseload of UASC in Greece meant that as of June 2019 more than half of all UASC present in Greece (2,006) remained outside appropriate accommodation, including 1,060 UASC living in informal/insecure housing conditions.
- A total of 7,272 unaccompanied children (93% boys and 7% girls) were present and registered in different types of accommodation at the end June 2019. This is a 45% decrease compared to June 2018 – mainly due to a sharp decrease in sea arrivals, as well as adolescents reaching adulthood.
- Most of all registered UASC at the end of June 2019 were in shelters run by state authorities and non-profit entities (79% of the total in second-level reception centres and 5% in first-level reception centres), while 6% were in private accommodation (family care arrangements).
- Additionally, the Italian Government has reported 4,736 registered unaccompanied children to be out of the reception system at the end of June 2019 (in December 2018, this number stood at 5,230).
- There is no information available on accommodation for children with their families in reception facilities.
- As of June 2019, a total of 156 children (85% boys and 15% girls), including 54 UASC, were accommodated in reception facilities in Sofia and southern Bulgaria. This represents a 27% decrease in the number of children compared to December 2018, mainly due to continued onward movements.
- In mid-June 2019, a safe zone for unaccompanied asylumseeking children opened in the reception centre of Voenna Rampa in Sofia. This is the first of its kind in the country, and currently 39 unaccompanied children (mainly from Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan) benefit from its services.
- As of September, 13,400 unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children were accommodated in specialized government-run reception centres across the 17 autonomous communities and the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Regions hosting the vast majority of UASC include Andalusia, Melilla, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Madrid, yet no data is available on their number, age and gender.
- A total of 825 children (18% girls and 82% boys) were present in the country as of June 2019 - a 28% decrease compared to December 2018, but slightly more compared to the caseload in June 2018.
- With 463 UASC present in June 2019, the proportion of UASC among all refugee and migrant children in Serbia increased to 59%, up from 42% in December 2018 (484). While the reception system for UASC continues to improve, there are an estimated 100 UASC still out of appropriate long-term or temporary care.
- In June 2019, children made up 26% of the total refugee and migrant population accommodated in state reception and accommodation centres, down from 46% in December 2018.
Asylum applications and decisions
Asylum applications lodged by children, including unaccompanied and separated children, between January and June 2019 – by country of asylum*
During the first half of 2019, European countries10 recorded some 297,560 new asylum seekers. Nearly a third of them (94,040) were children. This represents a slight increase of 21% compared to the same period in 2018.
In 2019, the largest proportion of child asylum seekers are from the Syrian Arab Republic representing 21% of all child asylum seekers (compared to 28% in all of 2018). Other notable countries of origin among child asylum seekers include Afghanistan (9%), Iraq (8%), Venezuela (5%), Eritrea*(4%), Nigeria (4%), Turkey (3%), Georgia (3%), the Islamic Republic of Iran (3%) and the Russian Federation (3% each).
In general, 45% of all child asylum seekers in the first half of 2019 were female, and originated from Nigeria (51%), Venezuela (49%), Turkey (48%), the Russian Federation (48%), Syrian Arab Republic (47%) and Georgia (47%).
Similar to previous years, Germany remained the top destination for refugee and migrant children, registering 39% of all child asylum applications between January and June 2019 (36,590 children). Other countries that recorded large numbers of child asylum seekers include France (11,560 children, 12%), Spain (10,120 children, 11%), Greece (9,314 children, 10%), and the United Kingdom (4,780 children, 5%). Greece remains the country with the highest number of first-time applicants relative to its population, while Spain has marked the sharpest increase in child asylum claims over the first six months of 2019 (double compared to the same period in 2018).
Decisions on child asylum applications
Between January and June 2019, a total of 72,420 decisions were issued by national authorities on child asylum claims across Europe. Yet, due to accumulated backlogs in national asylum systems, over 168,320 asylum applications by children were still registered as pending at the end of June 2019.
Of all decisions issued in the first half of 2019, 59% were positive, which is a slight increase compared to 2018 (56%), but significantly lower than in 2017 and 2016, when respectively 63% and 67% of children received positive asylum decisions.
72% of all children who received positive decisions, were granted refugee status, while the remaining were provided subsidiary protection. This represents a positive trend over the past years - compared to 63% in 2018, 50% in 2017 and 53% in 2016. This is particularly visible among Syrian children, for whom refugee status decisions increased from 62% in 2018 to 69% in 2019 , while subsidiary protection decisions dropped from 27% to 20%.
Many child asylum seekers received negative decisions, notably among those coming from North African countries (90% on average), as well as children from Bangladesh (74%), Pakistan (68%) and Mali (59%).
Inter-agency factsheet on refugee and migrant children
Access to education for refugee and migrant children in Greece
Refugee and migrant children in Greece - overview
Unaccompanied Children in Greece