Academic journal article Refuge

Unaccompanied/separated Minors and Refugee Protection in Canada: Filling Information Gaps

Academic journal article Refuge

Unaccompanied/separated Minors and Refugee Protection in Canada: Filling Information Gaps

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper fills information gaps with regard to unaccompanied/separated minors in Canada. By the means of reviewing Citizenship and Immigration Canada administrative databases, it investigates how many unaccompanied/separated refugee minors exist, who they are, and how they are received in Canada. We found that there were fewer truly unaccompanied minors than previously reported. In the asylum stream, only 0.63 per cent (or 1,087) of the total claimant population were found to be unaccompanied by adults in the past five years. In the resettlement stream only two truly unaccompanied minors were resettled during 2003 and 2004. Regarding their socio-demographic characteristics, we found that unaccompanied minors compose a highly heterogeneous group from man), different countries.

Regarding how they were received in Canada, very little evidence existed. Our study found that unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking minors showed a higher acceptance rate and quicker processing times than the adult population, but details about the minors' actual reception into Canada remains to be further explored.

This study recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada review its administrative databases with a view toward improving the data about separated/unaccompanied children. Consistent and detailed definitions are required to develop a comprehensive policy framework for unaccompanied/separated minor refugees in Canada.

Resume

L'article remplit quelques failles d'information relativement aux mineurs separes/non accompagnes au Canada. En s'appuyant sur l'analyse de bases de donnees administratives de Citoyennete et Immigration Canada, l'article se penche sur le nombre reel de refugies mineurs separes/non accompagnes, qui ils sont et comment ils sont accueillis au Canada. Il en resulte un nombre moins eleve de mineurs reellement non accompagnes que le nombre diffuse anterieurement. Parmi le flot de refugies, seulement 0,63 pour cent (ou 1 087) de l'ensemble de la population requerante etait non accompagne par des adultes au cours des cinq dernieres annees. Dans l'ensemble des reinstallations, seulement deux mineurs vraiment non accompagnes ont fait l'objet d'une relocalisation en 2003 et 2004. A l'egard de leurparticularites socio-demographiques, l'etude a demontre que les mineurs non accompagnes formaient un groupe hautement heterogene issu de nombreux pays differents.s

Il existe peu de traces de la facon dont ils ont ete accueillis au Canada. L'etude revele que les demandes d'asile parmi les mineurs separes et non accompagnes sont davantage acceptees et jouissent d'un temps de traitement plus court que parmi la population adulte. Toutefois, une analyse detaillee sur l'accueil reel des mineurs au Canada reste a faire.

L'article recommande que Citoyennete et Immigration Canada revoit ses bases de donnees administratives avec l'objectif de mettre a jour les renseignements sur les enfants separes/non accompagnes. Il est necessaire d'avoir des definitions coherentes et detaillees pour etablir un cadre politique global a l'egard des mineurs separes/non accompagnes au Canada.

Introduction

While a substantial body of literature on unaccompanied/separated children asylum seekers exists in Europe, surprisingly little has been published about their counterparts in Canada. Moreover, most of the existing publications by scholars and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) start by lamenting the lack of reliable data in Canada. (1) This has led to requests from national and international sources to provide statistics in order to develop a consistent national policy on the reception and care of unaccompanied/separated children in the refugee protection stream. For example, the Concluding Observations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child monitoring committee 2003 is especially concerned about the absence of a definition of "separated child" and the lack of reliable data on asylum-seeking children. …

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