The Irish Refugee Council represents people with refugee status and people granted subsidiary protection in applications to be reunited with their family members in Ireland. We have partnered with Kids in Need of Defence (KIND) and the Immigrant Council of Ireland to help children who have been granted refugee status in Ireland reunite with the families they left behind.

Approximately 175 unaccompanied children arrive in Ireland every year. The majority have left their families in countries impacted by conflict, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia. Reunifying with family is critically important to children’s well-being, mental health, and development.

There is no state-provided legal aid available for applications for family reunification in Ireland. Without legal help, it is difficult for children to apply for family reunification and to meet all requirements, or to challenge refusals of their applications. Children can also miss the limited time window to reunite with their families in safety. By training pro bono lawyers to assist children through the family reunification process, the project addresses the gap in legal services that fall outside the scope of state legal aid.  

A&L GoodbodyArthur CoxMicrosoftLinked InSimmons and Simmons have joined the project as pro bono partners. With ICI and IRC’s training and guidance, their lawyers provide free, child-friendly legal advice to young people who have arrived in Ireland alone and are seeking to reunite with the families they left behind.

This project is part of KIND’s broader initiative to provide legal protection for unaccompanied children in Europe and advance their rights.  In this pilot initiative, KIND has adapted its U.S.-based pro bono model to expand legal assistance to unaccompanied children on the move in Europe. In partnership with leading local non-profit organizations, KIND has developed projects that respond to the context and needs of unaccompanied children and seek policies grounded in children’s rights.  

 Additional KIND initiatives in Europe

KIND is partnering with European Lawyers in Lesvos to help unaccompanied children on the Greek island to reunify with family in other European member states and to change incorrect age determinations.  In France, KIND is partnering with the Alliance des Avocats pour les Droits de l’Homme (AADH) to help unaccompanied children secure international protection, residency, housing, and other essential services.  And in partnership with Child Circle, a Belgium-based expert NGO in the field of migration and child rights, KIND is working to educate and raise awareness of the challenges faced by children on the move in Europe and of their need for protection in order to secure systemic change in migration policy in the E.U.