The 20th of June marks the World Refugee Day and for OBESSU and Sirius, this is an opportunity to raise awareness about the situation of refugees around the world but especially in Europe.
Since the refugee crisis started in 2011, Europe has witnessed a surge of arrivals arriving in the EU through the Mediterranean and overland through Southeast Europe. Many of them are minors, who reached the borders of our continent unaccompanied and fled from their homes due to war, famine, exploitation, poverty, climate change and other life-threatening circumstances.
Just in 2019, 13 800 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors, and in the peak of the migratory crisis, in 2015/2016, 170.000 unaccompanied children did; one out of ten children applying for asylum is unaccompanied. These minors have to face many barriers in order to be recognised and treated as such: many times they arrive in Europe without any kind of legal documents like passports or IDs. Legal and border authorities often do not trust the refugee’s declared age without proof, and Member States do not have in place the proper policies to support them and include them in their societies.
According to the European Pillar of Social Rights, principle 1: ‘’‘’Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market.’’
The European Commission launched in December 2020 a Toolkit for inclusive early childhood education and care . In this toolkit they highlight the different dimensions that need to be implemented in order to provide high quality and inclusion for all children. This toolkit makes reference as well to the European Pillar of Social Rights (mentioned above) and it’s based on the policy recommendations that have been adopted by the EU Member States. This means that the toolkit it’s made by measures already adopted by different Member States or to be adopted.
If unaccompanied minors are denied the access to education and other basic rights, they will have to face multiple and challenging barriers to be able to keep moving forward. This includes the young people who reach our shores in hope of a better life. Because no one leaves their home and everything they love behind unless they have no other choice.
This is why, OBESSU and Sirius, we fight and advocate every day with our work for the right of any children to have access to quality education, no matter their background.