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.
Profiling unaccompanied and separated Afghan minors in Sweden (2016)
The main aim of the profiling exercise was to establish an overview of:
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.
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:
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.
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: