Separated Children given a voice in new report on protection by the Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: 22 September 2011

 Tuesday, 1 February 2011:

Separated children and guardians voice their opinions in the Irish Refugee Council’s report, ‘Closing a Protection Gap’, which is being launched by Sophie Magennis, Head of Office at UNHCR.  The launch is taking place today (1/2/11) at 10.30 am in European Union House.

Sophie Magennis, says: “Children who flee their homes on their own to find protection in a new country are brave survivors with voices that need to be heard. This report which listens to those voices is a valuable contribution to finding solutions for such children.”

 ‘Closing a Protection Gap’ is based on the views of separated children and provides an instrument to strengthen the qualifications of service providers working in the area. The launch is being attended by social workers, HSE employees, child rights organisations, academics and politicians.

Samantha Arnold, Separated Children’s Officer at the Irish Refugee Council and author of the report, says: “The overall aim is not to overhaul the system for guardianship, but to work with social workers, service providers and young people themselves to identify best practice for the care of separated children.

 “From the recommendations of the report, we have produced a guardian-friendly guide which will become a tool for service providers.”

The report is part of the European Commission funded project, ‘Closing a Protection Gap for Children in Europe’, which has come about to address differences in the level of protection for separated children across the EU.  Ireland is one of eight countries participating in the project.

Approximately 6,000 unaccompanied children have sought refuge in Ireland over the last decade and over 500 have been reported as missing.

“Separated children are an exceptionally vulnerable group who are susceptible to trafficking and exploitation.  The unacceptable number of separated children that have gone missing in Ireland in recent years illustrates starkly the very special protection needs that these children have,” says Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council.



Notes to the Editor

  • Separated children are children under 18 years of age, who are outside their country of origin, and separated from both parents and their previous/legal customary primary care giver.
  • ‘Closing a Protection Gap for Children in Europe’ is a part of the Daphne III Project to protect children, young people and women against all forms of violence and to attain a high level of health protection, well-being and social cohesion. The programme’s specific objective is to contribute to the prevention of, and the fight against, all forms of violence occurring in the public or the private domain against children, young people and women, including sexual exploitation and trafficking in human beings, by taking preventive measures and by providing support and protection for victims and groups at risk.
  • The countries participating in ‘Closing a Protection Gap for Children in Europe’ are: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and Ireland.