The Unaccompanied Foreign Minors

Who are the Unaccompanied Foreign Minors ?

The UFM are young exiles under 18 years old who arrive in Belgium without their parents or legal guardians.

Likewise as adults, children exile themselves fleeing war and armed situations, persecution, misery and privations. They are obliged to leave their home and to flee from their country in order to preserve their physical and moral integrity. Some are victims of human beings trafficking for economical or sexual exploitation.
After a very dangerous journey, some of those children arrive in a country of the Western Europe like ours. They are therefore alone, without family support. They suffer of separation, abuse and trauma which they went through.

At the moment they entered the country, they hit often the language barrier, they are face to face with new customs, with a new unknown administrative system. Generally they visibly have nothing, they are vulnerable in a particular way and therefore easily exploitable. They suffer socially and psychologically and need adapted help towards their needs and each one’s specific situation.

The difficulties which the Unaccompanied Minor (UM) has to face are complex and multiple:

  • Traumas lived in their country of origin and during their journey to Belgium,
  • Separation with their parents, their families and their place or origin,
  • Problems related to exile and to the necessity of finding their place in the Belgian society,
  • Difficulties related to their young age,,
  • For some, difficulties related to their status of young parents

Therefore, despite the sufferings that they endured and the obstacles they face, these young people, once they arrive in our country, look forwards to building their lives. Beyond the particularities related to their situation, they are also children and teenagers with the same needs as young people who were born in Belgium. So they need to be listened to, attention, security and future perspectives. They want to be able to meet young people of their age, to laugh and have fun, to have the right to a decent life and a hope for a better future.

Humanity has to give to the child the best that it holds.

Geneva Declaration on the Rights of the Child, 1924.

Mentor-Escale accompanies the UM when they live the Host Centers, at the time they start their integration in Belgium. At Mentor-Escale, many young people were able to find whom to talk to, friends with whom to share moments of joy in a human atmosphere. Many of them were able to restart their studies, find a job, a home and to be integrated to the Belgian society. Finally, by building up their life here, they bring to us their energy, their will, the richness of their cultures.

For more:

That pedagogical sheet was done as complement to the pedagogical file of Amnesty International 2016 “Migration here and elsewhere” in order to open the specific question of the UM (Unaccompanied Minors).