Insite is covering the 2-day conference, organised by Missing Children Europe together with the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.
Insite will be updating a live feed throughout these 2 days of everything being discussed at this important conference, addressing particularly how we can work together in protecting refugee and migrant children from disappearance.
16:36 And after some very powerful words by Her Excellency, the conference comes to a close. Thank you for joining us throughout these two days, and we look forward to cover more conferences for you in the near future!
16:24 Finally, Her Excellency takes to the stand to thank all those who were involved in some way or another with the smooth running of the past two days. Her Excellency recounted how last year she went to Australia on an official visit to meet with Australian-Maltese people, and heard how they were sent to Australia at a young age for a better life in the 1950s. She recounts how these scars are still felt by these migrants, who endured so much.
16:14 Maud de Boer Buquicchio, President of Missing Children Europe takes to the stand. She was pleased to announce that the recommendations from the past two days would be taken into account by the EU, following a successful meeting with the Justice and Home Affairs Council.
16:00 Caterina Chinnici, who is an MEP and co-chair of the Intergroup on the Rights of the Child,takes to the stand. Chinnici emphasises that we should all work together in order to fully help migrant children and protect the rights of every child. Migration has stopped being an emergency, but is now a “structural phenomenon”.
15:56 Following a short break, Her Excellency arrives back at the Verdala Palace for the final part of the conference: a feedback session following the Justice and Home Affairs Meeting. Dr. Ruth Farrugia shall be one of the moderators for this feedback session. Dr. Farrugia is the Director General of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.
15:04 Can return be considered as being the best for the child sometimes? Deportation is a big reason behind why many children go missing, claims one of the rapporteurs. Throughout their migration journey, migrant children go through various immigration statuses, which is something that needs to be taken into account.
14:55 Missing and unaccompanied minors should be treated as missing children, claims one of the rapporteurs. She goes on to say that swift reports should be sent to the police, and hotlines should be opened for information on these children. And for this to work, protocols need to be devised which are clear and certified, so that these children also have their mental health taken care of.
14:52 The next rapporteur to discuss formed part of the workshop on the Dublin Procedures. She explained the issue with duplication of assessments, due to lack of teamwork. These result into lengthy delays, and an increased risk of children who go missing who take matters into their own hands and attempt to find their families. Guardians and Liaison Officers could assist the Dublin Procedures.
14:50 The rapporteurs of the second group of workshops take to the panel. The first rapporteur discusses how what needs to be tackled is the “culture of disbelief”, where people are suspicious of migrants, which in turn, makes children trust adults less. Further, children need access to specialist carers who can understand their journey. There needs to be a better risk-assessment with regards to trafficking.
14:48 The next workshop to be discussed is the workshop on holistic solutions to enhance local cooperation in the best interest of the child. It was suggested that children themselves should be included in the process. Further, natural mapping could be of use,
14:45 The workshop on Guardianship emphasised the importance of guardians being involved in the entire migration process, and that training should be provided for all guardians, particularly education on avoiding trafficking. The participants of this workshop had a deep discussion on whether guardians should be voluntary, and it was devised that so long as training is given.
14:40 The fourth workshop’s rapporteur, from the workshop on establishing mechanisms for transnational child protection, discussed how a robust system for data collection needs to be devised which could then be shared between member states.
Further, member states should cooperate in order to reunite families separated by migration, and who end up seeking asylum in different countries.
14:34 With regards to the first workshop, which was about trafficked children, the group recommended that children may need sensitisation of certain dangers, and mentoring it. Registration and information of said children could be done through the use of technology and apps.
Lastly, unaccompanied minors need to be treated as any other child.
14:27 After way too many doughnuts we’re back in the main room, where the rapporteurs of the first 6 workshops are invited to come share their suggestions.
12:46 Participants are once again invited to separate into 5 different workshops.
11:45 After 6 great workshops, it’s time for a well-deserved coffee break!
10:45 Participants are invited to separate into the different workshops. Insite shall be having a roundup article later on this evening!
10:31 “Politicians are supposed to be leaders, and those who follow them mustn’t be afraid to speak up”, H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca .
10:19 Comment from the floor: “Politicians are elected by people, and public opinion is not in favour of migration. So we need politicians to tell their voters that migrants also include children, and unaccompanied minors”.
10:16 “Member states need to take care of their responsibilities”, Mr. Avrampoulos. “Some politicians are great at rhetorics, but terrible at doing their role…what lacks is the political will”.
10:00 Ms. de Boer Buquicchio asks Mr. Carmelo Abela if he has plans with regards to relocation of migrants. Mr. Abela replied that while Malta has challenges, the stakeholders are not there to accept the status quo. Malta needs to have better results with regards to relocation, and as Malta takes the Presidency of the EU for the next six months, the aim is to continue working on these issues, and to secure significant progress and develop a common protocol for member states on how to tackle migration, in order to reduce the amount of children going missing.
Abela also mentioned how Malta recently entered the Amber Alert System. (editor comment: if you haven’t signed up to this yet, go on https://www.amberalert.eu/join-the-search/ and do it!)
9:50 “In 2010, there were 10,000 migrant children seeking asylum”, Mr. Avrampoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs.
9:44 Ms Verena Knaus, Senior Policy Adviser at UNICEF comments how member states need to show more concern for child migrants. She also pointed out that resettlement needs to be taken seriously, “don’t settle DOWN, settle UP!”.
9:42 Her Excellency takes to the stand to invite the participants of yesterday’s discussions to take the mic and speak about the suggestions devised following the workshops.
9:41 “We know that child migrants are some of the most at risk individuals to be targeted by criminals”, Mr. Carreira.
9:35 Jose Carreira, Executive Director of the EASO takes the mic and emphasises that while migrant children are protected, it is not enough. There are many improvements that need to be made, and as an agency they are trying to improve it - “In our first five years we built a lot of tools, including online”.
9:30 “Hundreds and Thousands of migrants have crossed to Europe, so this issue is a pressing one”, Mr. Abela. With regards to the age assessment, Abela comments that it is difficult to determine the age of a migrant, but comments that children and families are not detained, and family unification is encouraged irrespective of their status.
9:25 Carmelo Abela, Minister for Home Affairs and National Security begins by praising Her Excellency for taking the initiative to organise such an event. He continues to say that migration is an issue that divides people, but we must push on to keep tackling this problem.
9:20 Dimitris Avrampoulos, who is the Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs comments how all organisations can do is support member states, who are the front-liners in tackling this issue where migrants, particularly children, disappear on their way to a better place. He reiterates that they will be doing their best to protect unaccompanied minors.
9:17 “Almost 1/3rd of migrants are children”, Ms. Maud de Boer Buquicchio
9:15 Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca opens today’s conference by thanking everyone present, particularly the migrant children who were present for these two days. She reiterates that there are too many gaps in the law and policies of EU countries, which is a disservice to migrant and asylum seeking children.