Minors at a reception centre in Sicily are given psychological and psychosocial support. ©Tdh Italia / Andrea Frazzetta

A new research report by SOS Children’s Villages and Eurochild is aiming to help child protection services from countries across Europe to respond to the needs of refugee and migrant children, including children travelling without their family.

The report, Let Children be Children: Lessons from the Field on the Protection and Integration of Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe, explores how professionals dealing with migrant and refugee children should seek to empower them as they try to rebuild their lives in a new country. This includes supporting them as they go through asylum and family reunification procedures and adapt to new schools and societies.

“We very much hope that the practices in this report will assist policymakers and practitioners to identify shortcomings and to develop and implement workable solutions that ensure all children can access their right to quality care, regardless of whether they carry the ‘refugee’ label with all its connotations,” said Ana Fontal, Global Refugee Coordinator for SOS Children’s Villages International.

The study documents work carried out in Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, The Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Experts say there has been a notable rise in lone child migrants arriving in Europe. In Italy, almost 95 percent of those arriving in the country between January and March of this year were unaccompanied or separated from their families.

NGOs such as SOS Children’s Villages provide care, legal, psychological and instructional assistance to nurture these children’s skills and to help them regain trust in the future.

“It is important to see that all sort of opportunities exist here. The other thing that I like about living in Finland is peace. It is safe here. There is no war. Life is good,” said one 17-year-old unaccompanied child from Afghanistan.

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