This week the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre published a paper addressing the needs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and child refugees in Scotland.
The report sets out the context of the current refugee crisis, particularly as it relates to unaccompanied minors, and looks at the structures in place in Scotland to provide support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
It states that “in 2015, a total of 3,043 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the United Kingdom, a 56 per cent increase on 2014”, and at least 5 unaccompanied children claim asylum in Scotland in any given month. As of early April 2016, UNHCR has registered more than 4.8 million refugees from Syria of which more than 2.4 million are children.
After expounding the context of the current crisis, the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre highlights two important policy areas: the devolution of responsibility for child refugees to Scottish Government and an expanded role for the Scottish Guardianship Service.
Civil society organisations are called to consider how to raise awareness of the plight of UASC and child refugees, and advocate with all levels of Government to ensure that UASC and child refugees in Scotland are provided with the support they require for their welfare and development.
Following a comprehensive analysis the authors conclude that “given the structures already in place in Scotland, and particularly the Scottish Guardianship Service, coupled with the generally welcoming attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees among all the major political parties and the general public, we believe Scotland is in a strong position to host larger numbers of unaccompanied child refugees and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.”
Read the full report here.
The photograph above was taken by Paul Jeffrey for the World Council of Churches. It shows an Afghan refugee boy heads a ball in a children’s play area provided by volunteers in the Hauptbahnhof railroad station in Vienna, Austria, where asylum seekers–and the volunteers who welcome them–congregate.