Sweden - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service


Among the unprecedented influx of refugees and other migrants to the shores of Greece and Italy in 2015 were significant numbers of unaccompanied and separated children (UASCs). More than half were Afghan nationals, of whom half chose Sweden as their ultimate destination.

Although many of the Afghan UASC arriving in Sweden and other Nordic countries were registered by the authorities, little consolidated evidence was available about the situations they had left from, most often in Afghanistan or Iran, and about the ways in which they traveled to Europe. Therefore, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Sweden, in collaboration with the Swedish Migration Agency, requested JIPS’ support for a profiling exercise focused on this particularly vulnerable population group in February 2016.

Project overview

Profiling unaccompanied and separated Afghan minors in Sweden (2016)

The main aim of the profiling exercise was to establish an overview of:

  • who the Afghan UASCs were,
  • what drove them to undertake such a long and difficult journey,
  • what happened to them along the way, and
  • why they chose Sweden as their destination.

The information gathered was to inform the Swedish authorities as well as UNHCR’s programming in the countries en route from Afghanistan to Sweden, and amounted to a significant step toward building an evidence base to inform the search for solutions for the children concerned.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We provided remote technical support during the initial phases of the profiling process, before undertaking a joint mission to Sweden with UNHCR in March 2016 to ensure stakeholder engagement, obtain baseline data and finalise the methodology and tools.

A second mission was organised soon after to support the profiling team in preparing for the launch of the training and data collection phases. This included:

  • Finalising the methodology, survey questionnaire and focus group discussion tools,
  • Jointly developing a training package for the survey enumerators, and
  • Agreeing a communication plan for the dissemination of the profiling results.

Data collection took place between March and May, when 240 children were surveyed individually, and a further 34 took part in focus group discussions.

JIPS also provided remote support to the profiling partners in analysing the data and reporting.

Impact & lessons learned

The final report was published in October 2016 as part of a wider undertaking by UNHCR during the 2016 High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection to shed light on the protection situation of children on the move. Results also informed the advocacy activities of UNHCR and partners in Sweden.

The profiling exercise presented a number of challenges and opportunities to learn from, many of them associated with working on sensitive issues with often traumatised children:

  • Extra time was required for the lengthy process of identifying children willing to take part in the survey and obtaining the necessary permission from their legal guardians and their care home or foster family. Finding female participants was particularly difficult.
  • Some children were hesitant to provide information about the protection challenges they had faced on their journey and the background of family members they had left behind. Others found discussing such issues upsetting. This was addressed through carefully choosing all enumerators with relevant background (e.g. social workers and psychologists), and specific training was organised for all of them on how to establish a friendly atmosphere of trust and refer individuals with a need for follow-up to a relevant partner. The children were also invited to choose someone to accompany them to their interview if desired.
  • We also had to shape the survey questions so that we could draw the needed information from the children without touching on potentially traumatic experiences. In addition, we instructed the enumerators to provide their interviewees with information about the psychosocial support available from their respective municipalities and NGOs working with refugees and asylum seekers. Many of the challenging discussions relating to experiences during the journey were also addressed through more creative methods based on maps, drawing and sticker symbols, which allowed for the respondents to decide what they wanted to bring up, rather than asking direct questions.
  • Given that the Afghan UASCs in Sweden are widely dispersed across the country and the time allocated for the profiling process was short, a multi-stage cluster approach was adopted to provide a representative sample of the population group as a whole. It was also decided not to use the survey to pursue a gender-disaggregated analysis due to the difficulty of reaching girls for the interviews, despite its potential usefulness in terms of the objectives of the profiling exercise. Instead a qualitative analysis of the background and experiences of female USACs was undertaken based on focus group discussions.

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