Missing Children Europe launches app to empower young newcomers in Europe to find safety

Missing Children Europe launches the Miniila app for young newcomers at the second edition of the Lost in Migration conference. Miniila which translates to “from…to” in Arabic is a smart mobile phone app that offers information about the rights and local support services available to help children on the move find their way to safety in Europe. The app is the concrete result of some of the recommendations made by child rights experts to the European Commission and national leaders on the protection of children in migration during last year’s Lost in Migration conference.

Miniila app: Smart technology to help young newcomers find their way to safety

In 2015, Europeans were shocked and saddened to hear that more than 10,000 unaccompanied children had gone missing in Europe. Thousands more have continued to go missing since. While support services exist, children are generally not aware of them or are unsure of who to trust.

Children attempting to find safety in Europe have repeatedly stated that they lack access to food, shelter, medical assistance and other critical information about their rights. However, many migrant children have a smartphone to navigate and speak with family back home. Missing Children Europe saw the opportunity of leveraging this crucial bit of technology to give children access to information on their rights and the support services available wherever they are in Europe. The Miniila app, developed in cooperation with children and launched today, will empower children (especially those unaccompanied) to make informed decisions and be better protected, rather than be forced to trust those who profit from their vulnerability.

“The app provides child friendly and updated information on the existing support services for migrant children, wherever they are, making the Miniila app a crucial source of information for children”, said Federica Toscano, Head of Programme for Children in Migration at Missing Children Europe.

The Miniila app features real-time and regionally specific information, allowing children to find out more about services available near them on a map in their own language. It guides them towards trustworthy people around them who can help provide shelter, food, health services, legal assistance, guardianship and more.

The app was made possible by the financial support of our funding partner H&M Foundation and was developed in cooperation with software company trellyz, Translators Without Borders and Médecins du Monde. Miniila is currently available in 8 countries in Europe, where national NGOs will ensure that children have access to the app.

Lost in Migration

The app was created in response to the lack of information available to support children arriving to Europe. Improving access to information was one of the conclusions of the first edition of Lost in Migration held in January 2017, where 160 experts came together to create recommendations for European leaders on preventing children from going missing. Soon after, in April, the European Commission used these recommendations as a basis for their Communication on the protection of children in migration, outlining 37 priority actions for European and national leaders.

National statistics

 

Between 2014 and 2017 the equivalent of 60 classrooms of children from non-EU countries went missing in Sweden alone. In Italy where many children start their search for safety 5,828 migrant children went missing, while in Germany, a destination country, 8,991 unaccompanied children went missing in 2016 (10% of whom were under 13). Records have shown that up to 50% of unaccompanied children go missing within the first 48 hours of being placed in European centres.

Efforts such as the network of guardianship institutions and the promotion of best practices across Member States on protecting and integrating children are ongoing, but action is lagging when implementation from EU Member States is required. Problems such as the lack of child protection experts at border registration points to identify and support child trafficking victims, limited access to education for children seeking asylum, delays in family reunification, or very little access to psychological support, still exist. Additionally, the current EURODAC negotiations by European institutions could allow the use of coercion to fingerprint children as young as 14. This approach is shocking considering it could violate children’s rights according to the European Fundamental Rights Agency and the UN Committee on Child Rights. Finally, in many countries, national hotlines for missing children including children in migration are still not assured funding or support from their national governments.

"A year ago, the European Commission proposed several measures to protect children in migration. Unfortunately, this is not happening quickly enough across Europe. Children still lack protection and continue to disappear. At the conference we will take stock of where we are now and what needs to be done next. On the basis of these conclusions we will have a debate in the European Parliament during the April session in Strasbourg. We must keep the European focus on the lives of these vulnerable children who will make up the future of Europe!” said MEP Hilde Vautmans from the ALDE Group and a speaker at the conference.

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About Missing Children Europe

Missing Children Europe is the European federation for missing and sexually exploited children, representing 31 organisations from 27 European countries. We provide the link between research, policies and organisations on the ground to protect children from any kind of violence, abuse or neglect that is caused by or results from them going missing.

About the Miniila app

Miniila is the essential app for young newcomers and is specifically tailored to the needs of children on the move. It focuses on providing clear and child friendly information about dedicated services such as shelter, food, legal assistance, and health services in the area they are in, but also information on the rights of children in the EU and on relevant procedures for international protection and family reunification. The mobile app will be accessible in eight countries in Europe, used by hundreds of aid organisations. The realisation of the app was made possible by software platform trellyz (creators of the RefAid app) and the H&M Foundation. Other key partners involved are Save the Children (Radda Barnen, Sweden), Child Focus (Belgium), UK Refugee Council (United Kingdom), Médecins du Monde (Belgium) Terre des Hommes (Germany), The Nadja Centre Foundation (Bulgaria), Ecpat (France), The Smile of the Child (Greece), Telefono Azzurro (Italy) and Translators without Borders. More information on Miniila.com and on YouTube.

Lost in Migration Conference

The second edition of the Lost in Migration conference brings together key stakeholders concerned with the issue of child protection, to take stock of the local realities of children arriving in Europe in the context of migration and develop forward looking proposals for the protection of these children. The conference is organised together with the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society in cooperation with the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE), the Child Rights Intergroup in the European Parliament, the Urban Agenda Partnership on the Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees, The Brussels-Capital Region and supported by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM, taking place on 11-12 April 2018 at the BIP.


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