Data on refugee and migrant children are the focus of Issue 5 of the IOM GMDAC Data Briefing Series. This briefing, written by Rachel Humphries and Nando Sigona, reviews the sources and availability of data on refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe by sea. It finds that variance in policy and practice across European Union Member States results in stark differences in how and when children are recorded, including whether they are considered “accompanied” or “unaccompanied”. Methodologies used to determine age, and how this information is used, also differ from State to State, as do the rights to protection that children receive. The Annex sets out the different definitions used to categorize child migrants and refugees across international and European publications and conventions and a comparison of available data sources on unaccompanied minors.
The authors discuss how double-counting occurs as children move within and between countries, and the consequences of this when estimating the number of “missing refugee children” across Europe. In addition, broad gaps in data on the gender and age of minors who arrive in Europe irregularly further point to what cannot be known from the existing systems of information collection. Overall, there is a need for improved data collection in order that States might develop better policy responses to meet their international obligations towards children.