In December 2021, over 70 participants gathered for the fifth edition of the Lost in Migration Conference: ‘A Seat at the Table – Young Newcomers Driving Discussions on Going Missing in Migration’. For the first time, the conference was shaped and led by young refugees and migrants with the support of Missing Children Europe, the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and local partners.

Prior to the event, in-person ‘local hubs’ across European cities connected young people and key stakeholders to discuss the challenges faced by children in migration (at risk of) going missing and potential solutions. The final online conference brought together high-level European and national policy makers, civil society organisations and young newcomers. They discussed the challenges raised by young people in the local hubs (see also the local hubs outcomes report) and recommendations for the future.

Based on the discussions, we recommend:

  • EU institutions and Member States, including local authorities, should:
  • Ensure that children in migration are provided with opportunities to share their experiences and that these are translated into policy and legislative responses, including through the upcoming child participation platform.  
  • Ensure equal and non-discriminative access to services, including community-based reception, in line with the provisions of Reception Conditions Directive and the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.  
  • Stop unlawfully preventing displaced individuals from entering the European Union and forcibly returning them to neighbouring or third counties, in violation of the right to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.  
  • Ensure that children in migration are not subject to abuse and violence by law enforcement and border authorities.  
  • Ensure access to child-friendly information in line with language needs of children in migration, including by developing digital tools and training professionals.  
  • Ensure smooth transition to adulthood for children in migration, with a particular focus on access to services (i.e., care leavers services) and financial support, irrespective of residence status. 
  • Resolve insecure residence status for children in migration.  
  • Ensure that EU and national funds are not used to violate human rights.  
  • Ensure that children are never placed in detention. 
  • Provide all necessary means to protect children in migration from trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation and other criminal activities.  
  • Collect data on children in migration going missing.  
  • Develop cross-border case management services and information sharing between national child protection systems.  

EU institutions should: 

  • Update the EU legal framework to ensure children in migration have access to a legal guardian and free legal assistance. 
  • Develop a transparent operational framework for transnational procedures at EU level, including family reunion and relocation.  
  • Appoint an EU relocation coordinator to facilitate relocations across the EU.  


Read the final report here and the conference recommendations here.  


About Lost in Migration 

Lost in Migration is an annual conference where young newcomers, professionals and European policy makers meet to discuss migration-related issues that affect children and young people and that leads children and young people to go missing. 



Louise Bonneau, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, Missing Children Europe

Syed Hasnain, Project Officer Children in Migration, Missing Children Europe