Guardians for unaccompanied minors

 

Belgian Red Cross-Flanders employs professional guardians for unaccompanied minors. They look after minors who arrive in Belgium without parents or other legal representative. The support provided by guardians is essential: they not only monitor all aspects of the young person’s welfare but also oversee the progress of legal procedures.

New staff guardians

Throughout 2012, dozens of unaccompanied foreign minors were waiting to be allocated a guardian. We therefore decided to take on two extra staff guardians. Since fall 2012 we have had seven guardians in total.

In figures

De Most unaccompanied minors are aged between 15 and 18.

73% of unaccompanied minors are boys.

Each guardian looks after an average of 25 cases.

In 2012, we had 256 guardianship cases. That number is slightly higher than in 2011 (234 cases), partly due to the hiring of two more guardians. 106 cases were closed in 2012. The most frequent reasons were: coming of age (62), reunification with family in Belgium or Europe (19) and disappearance (13).

The six most common countries of origin were:
• Afghanistan: 89
• Democratic Republic of Congo: 17
• Morocco: 16
• Angola: 8
• Pakistan: 8
• Somalia: 7
• Ghana: 7
The number of unaccompanied Afghan minors increased once again.

Airport duty office

Some underage asylum seekers enter Belgium via airports. They are subject to a specific procedure which requires a speedy approach. For this reason, we opened a duty office in partnership with Caritas. Each week, a guardian is available 24 hours a day to take charge of a young person straight away.

In 2012, we monitored 32 border-entry cases. The most common countries of origin were India (4), Côte d’Ivoire (3) and Gambia (3). Five minors were returned to their country of origin following consent from their parents and a guarantee that they would be looked after.

Coaching external guardians

In partnership with the Custodial Care Department at the Ministry of Justice, we launched a pilot project in 2011 to coach new freelance, voluntary guardians. The aim is to share our knowledge and experience in order to ensure high-quality reception. We continued this coaching project in 2012.

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In figures 
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