Lost in migration: Working together in protecting children from disappearance

Lost in migration: Working together in protecting children from disappearance

Malta, 26 – 27 January 2017

Background and workshop call for proposals

A. Background and focus

One of the many challenges faced in the protection of children in migration is a lack of coordination. A study published by Missing Children Europe in March 2016 entitled “Best practices and key challenges on interagency cooperation to safeguard unaccompanied children from going missing” highlighted in particular that cooperation and coordination – at both national and transnational level – hampers the prevention, response and aftercare for missing unaccompanied children. Children indeed fall through the gaps in the safety net and go missing, as no clear procedures are available regarding the different responsibilities of and communication between actors involved. Additional challenges occur as children move across EU member states, with a lack of efficient and swift transnational cooperation needed for their protection.


The Maltese Presidency will coincide with a key momentum in the revision of key European instruments dictating the protection of children in migration, as well as with International Missing Children’s Day, commemorated around the world on 25 May.


Missing Children Europe will therefore join hands with President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society to bring together key stakeholders concerned with the issue, to take stock of the situation and develop forward looking proposals for the protection of children in migration. It will address the need for a comprehensive child protection approach to effectively prevent and respond to disappearance.


The overall aim of the event will be to:

  • Help improve coordination centered around the protection of all children in migration
  • Raise awareness on the existing obligations towards all children and good practices to uphold children’s rights in the contest of migration 
  • Raise awareness on the situation of children in migration and the way forward to protect them at European level

The conference will build on previous Presidency initiatives, including:

  • 2009: Addressing the protection gap for unaccompanied and separated children in the EU: Role of the Stockholm Programme (Swedish Presidency)
  • 2011: Unaccompanied Children at the External Border of the EU (Belgian Presidency)
  • 2012: Conference on Unaccompanied Minors (Danish Presidency)

With a focus on all children in migration, the planned conference will build on the existing child protection principles outlined in the European Commission Reflection Paper on Integrated Child Protection Systems, as well as the (expected) comprehensive approach on children in migration - in order to effectively protect and respond to disappearances. It will also look back at the outcomes of the EU Forum on the Rights of the Child, due to take place in November 2016 and focus on children in migration. The comprehensive perspective proposed for the conference will take into account the changing status of children (with family, separated, unaccompanied, undocumented…). The conference will be a unique opportunity to build bridges between the local and the regional levels– by looking at how recommendations, guidelines, legislation can address the practical protection needs of children to prevent and respond to disappearances.

B. Conference format

The conference will comprise of a mix of formal interventions, interactive panels and hands-on workshops, centered around the need for a comprehensive child protection approach to prevent and respond effectively to child disappearance. Regular blog posts will be published before the conference, and a film screening will be organized in the evening. Conference recommendations developed and adopted by the participants will be published at the end of the meeting.

C. Workshop call for proposals

Missing Children Europe invites proposals for workshops focusing on the need for a coordinated child protection approach to prevent and respond to disappearances of children in migration. Workshops should be linked to either 1) Cross-border cooperation or 2) Role of different actors around the child and can include (but not exclusively):

Cross-border cooperation:

- Dublin Regulation

- Relocation

- Trafficking

- Cross border cooperation in disappearances

- Use of SIS, Eurodac, …

- …

Role of different actors around the child:

- Guardianship as prevention for disappearances

- Reception needs and best practices

- (Mental) health needs

- Cooperation between law enforcement & hotlines for missing children

- Durable solutions including returns, best interest assessments, …

- …

A workshop proposal is appropriate for a coordinated group of presentations that will focus on one topic, linked to a forward looking recommendation. Workshop proposals must include a minimum of three presentations and a moderator / discussant. Each participant and the topics to be discussed should be outlined in the proposal. The participation of each presenter should be secured before submitting the proposal. Each workshop at the conference will be allotted up to 90 minutes.

All proposals should be submitted electronically to info@missingchildreneurope.eu by 10 October 2016.

Proposals should consist of:

-     an abstract that is no longer than 250 words,

-     a proposal for the recommendation that will be discussed with the workshop participants,

-     a short bio for each suggested speaker as well as for the moderator.

Proposals will be reviewed by the conference organisers and rated according to quality, relevance and potential impact. Specific criteria against which the proposals will be evaluated are:

-       Relevance with regard to conference theme – linking child protection to prevention / response to disappearance of children (15 points)

-       Clear, focused and informed formulation of a forward looking recommendation (10 points)

-       Innovative dimension of the proposal – building on existing evidence and recommendations (5 points)

-       Interactive and engaging methodology of the proposed session (10 points)

-       Capacity to link the local to the regional dimension of the problem (5 points)

-       Complementarity with other proposals (5 points)

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