Latest statistics and graphics on refugee and migrant children

Latest information on children arriving in Europe

Omar (17), front, with his fellow housemates on the balcony at the reception centre where they stay in the small village of Naro, in Sicily, Italy
UNICEF/UN0264454/De Luigi VII Photo

Refugee and migrant children in Europe and Central Asia by country

Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe overview of trends (January-December 2018)

Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe overview of trends for 2018

The demography of those arriving

Including accompanied, unaccompanied and separated children (January-December 2018)

Demography of arrivals 2018

Gender and age breakdown of accompanied and unaccompanied and separated children by country of arrival

Gender breakdown of all children by country of arrival

Overall, the proportion of boys among children arriving remains higher than girls. Nearly two-thirds of children who arrived in 2018 were boys. , although the proportion of boys arriving in Italy* and
Spain remained significantly higher than in Greece and Bulgaria.

Source: Hellenic Police, EKKA, Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees, Italian Ministry of Interior
Accompanied children - age breakdown


The majority of UASC who arrived in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria between January and December 2018 were boys between 15 and 17 years old (91% overall).

Source: Hellenic Police, EKKA, Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees

Reception on arrival in 2018


  • An estimated 27,000 children were present in Greece as of 31 December 2018, an increase from 21,000 in December 2017. Of these, 57% live in urban areas (apartments, hotels, shelters for UASC, self-settled, etc.); 29% live in accommodation sites or reception centres and 1% live in safe zones for unaccompanied children9. A further 13% are in Reception and Identification Centres on the islands, a situation comparable to that of December 2017. 
  • A total of 700 unaccompanied children remained in Reception and Identification Centres10 in December 2018, while 86 were held in detention as a form of protective custody (both almost double compared to December 2017). 
  • A total of 1,758 children were placed in dedicated accommodation for UASC (981 in long-term accommodation and another 777 in temporary accommodation). Due to an increase in the number of places in temporary accommodation, the capacity to host UASC has increased by 43% compared to December 2017, when only 1,300 UASC were in long-term or temporary accommodation. Despite the progress, however, as of December 2018 almost half of all UASC present in Greece (1,700) remained on the waiting list for accommodation. 


  • A total of 10,787 children (93% boys and 7% girls) were present in shelters for UASC run by State authorities and non-profit entities at the end of December 2018. This represents a 13% decrease compared to December 2017, primarily as a result of the overall decrease in sea arrivals. As of December 2018, close to 5,230 children were considered to have left the system (in June 2018, this number stood at 4,700).
  • There is no information available on children accommodated in reception facilities with their families. 


  • As of December 2018, 213 children, including UASC, were accommodated in reception centres in Sofia and southern Bulgaria, an almost four-fold increase compared to December 2017 (55).


  • At the end of 2018, a total of 13,000 unaccompanied and separated children were present in Spain. This represents a 103% increase compared to December 2017. Most UASC are currently hosted in Andalusia, Melilla, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Madrid. While they are entitled to the same protection and care as Spanish children, their reception conditions may vary significantly from one location to another due to the decentralized nature of the national child protection system. 


  • A total of 1,140 children (880 boys and 260 girls) were present in Serbia as of December 2018, which is a 63% increase compared to June 2018, but comparable to the caseload in early January 2018.
  • 484 of these children were unaccompanied or separated (281 boys and 203 girls ) - a six-fold increase compared to June 2018, when only 69 UASC were registered as present in the country.
  • In 2018 children comprised 46% of the total number of refugees and migrants who have been accommodated in the country.

Asylum applications and decisions

Asylum applications lodged by children, including unaccompanied and separated children, between January and December 2018 – by country of asylum*

Asylum applications lodged by children, including unaccompanied and separated children, between January and December 2017 – by country of asylum


In 2018, European countries* recorded some 602,920 new asylum seekers. Nearly a third of them (32%) were children (191,360). This represents an 8% decrease compared to child asylum seekers in 2017. This included 20,325 UASC who

In 2018, nearly half of all child asylum seekers were from the Syrian Arab Republic (28%), Iraq (10%) and Afghanistan (9%), with an increased number of child asylum seekers from Eritrea (4%), Turkey (4%), Venezuela (3%), Nigeria (3%) and Iran (3%).

As in previous years, Germany remained the top destination for refugee and migrant children, registering 43% of all child asylum applications in 2018 (78,270 children). Other countries that recorded large numbers of child asylum seekers include France (24,145 children, 13%), Greece (21,770 children, 11%), Spain (11,035 children, 6%), the United Kingdom (8,975 children, 4%) and Italy (8,535 children 4%).

Greece remains the country with the highest number of first-time applicants relative to the population.

* European Union Member States + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Decisions on child asylum applications 
(January-December 2018)


In 2018, a total of 173,135 decisions on child asylum claims were issued by national authorities. Yet, due to an accumulated backlog in national asylum systems, a total of 225,615 child asylum
applications were registered as pending at the end of December 2018. 

Of all decisions taken in 2018, 56% were positive and 44% negative, reflecting a steady decrease in the proportion of positive decisions compared to 2017 and 2016, when 63% and 67% of children
respectively received positive asylum decisions. Of those who received positive decisions, a higher percentage of children were granted refugee status in 2018 (63%) than in 2017 (50%) and 2016 (53%).This is particularly visible among Syrian children, for whom refugee status decisions increased from 49% in 2017 to 62% in 2018, while subsidiary protection decisions dropped from 46% to 27%.

Many child asylum applicants received negative decisions, notably among those from North African countries (over 80% on average), as well as children from Iraq, Côte d'Ivoire (46% each)
and Afghanistan (41%).

Decisions on child asylum applications

Latest factsheets

Inter-agency factsheet on refugee and migrant children

 Interagency factsheet on refugee and migrant chidlren 15 May 2019

Access to education for refugee and migrant children in Greece

Access to formal education for refugee and migrant children residing in urban accomodation, Greece, Jan 2019

Refugee and migrant children in Greece - overview

Refugee and migrant children in Greece 31 August 2019 cover

Situation Update:
Unaccompanied Children in Greece

Unaccompanied children in Greece August 31 2019 cover