The Bridge to Belonging: The Integration Journey for Unaccompanied Children from the Middle East to Europe

Family for Every Child

At least 23,000 children and adolescents arrived in Europe in 2021, escaping conflict, violence, poverty or environmental degradation, approximately 10 per cent arrived unaccompanied. This report examines what happens after these unaccompanied children have arrived at their European destination. What does it mean to integrate into a new society when you are a child on your own? How do they face the challenges of building an identity without their families, process the violence and dangers of their journeys, and face a new situation that may not be as welcoming or straightforward as they had expected? How do the receiving communities change? And what can be done to make this a smoother process for everyone?

Focusing on the Eastern Mediterranean migration route, the report is built on interviews with key informants, a literature review, and research in three sites (Lebanon, Greece and Germany). It provides an extensive list of recommendations for service providers, child welfare workers, civil society groups, local and national authorities, and the European Commission. The research forms part of a wider project which will culminate in a toolkit for practitioners and advocacy platform, with the ultimate aim of improving the integration of unaccompanied children.