Struggling to Survive: Unaccompanied and separated children travelling the Western Balkans Route

Katarina Jovanović - Save the Children

The study ”Struggling to Survive” identifies and deepens the understanding of informal practices used, and experiences of, unaccompanied and separated migrant children during the course of their migration journey. Refugees and migrants, including unaccompanied and separated children, are often forced to rely on “informal practices”, i.e. survival strategies that go beyond the domain of formalized relations. These are non-institutional, every-day actions needed in order to protect themselves from hazards and potential abuse and to meet their needs, organize border-crossing, find accommodation, transport, food, and relevant information.

The data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews with unaccompanied and separated children in Serbia, focusing on the organization of the journey, key supporters and facilitators – “the network”, as well as on gaining an insight into different strategies employed by children during their journey. The study aimed to explore the conditions in which informal practices take place, as well as their general influence on the position of refugee and migrant children, and to promote a better understanding of children's needs and make possible an evidence-based recommendation for improving their position through future programming and advocacy interventions.