KIND Europe: May 2021 Program Update

May 11, 2021

KIND Europe’s Quarterly Update

May 2021

To date, KIND and our European partners have assisted more than 540 children on the move in Europe from 29 countries. In this edition of our newsletter, we shed light on the situations of unaccompanied children in Europe and the work of our partners on the ground in Greece, France, Ireland, and Belgium, as they continue assisting children through myriad legal challenges.

Program Updates:


In recent months, thousands of asylum seekers have been transferred from the Aegean Islands to the Greek mainland, where they face an increasingly strict and complex asylum framework, often with little legal support. Our partner European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) opened an office in Athens to provide legal information sessions and assistance with family reunification and asylum cases.

Working in Athens will also allow ELIL to continue supporting unaccompanied children who are moved from the islands. Following the fire that destroyed Moria camp last September, over 500 unaccompanied children were transferred from Lesvos to various locations across Greece, most of them in the middle of their legal procedure. Such transfers still continue, and a presence on the mainland will allow ELIL to follow cases like these more effectively.

Be sure to check out ELIL Managing Director Phil Worthington speaking on Ireland’s National Public Service Media program “The Leap of Faith” (beginning at the 21-minute mark), discussing conditions for children at the temporary refugee camp on Lesvos, Greece.

Phil also gave a talk titled: “COVID-19 and Access to Justice for Refugees, in “The First 24-Hour Webathon in Defence of the Rule of Law,” hosted by the International Association of Lawyers (UIA), International Association of Young Lawyers (IAYL), and the American Bar Association (ABA). Phil’s presentation starts at the 17:44 mark.


Our French partner, l’Alliance des Avocats pour les Droits de l’Homme (AADH), partnered with a group of NGOs to submit a communication to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child requesting an enquiry into the treatment of unaccompanied children as they undergo the age assessment process in France. This communication alleges serious violations of the rights of these vulnerable children by the French State.


In Ireland, KIND’s project jointly with Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) and Irish Refugee Council (IRC) Law Centres has recently expanded from assisting unaccompanied children with applications for family reunification, to also providing assistance with applications for citizenship.

The IRC and the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) published an update on Ireland’s asylum procedures, reception and detention conditions, and international protections. Click here to view the report.


540 Children served from 29 countries
82% Success rate for completed cases
422 Lawyers trained
274 Pro bono lawyers from 35 partners working on cases

Story Highlight

Afghani Family Reunited

Afghani family living in Lesvos refugee camp for over a year and a half wins case to reunify with 12-year-old son in Germany with the help of European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL).

With the assistance of ELIL, an Afghani family who has been living in the Lesvos refugee camp for more than a year a half has won their case to reunify with their 12-year-old son. The boy currently resides in a youth centre in Hamburg, Germany. The family contacted ELIL just days before a deadline to respond to a rejection of their family reunification application by German officials. Before connecting with ELIL, the family had not received legal assistance or advice about the asylum process and had no information about their family reunification case.

With only days to prepare, ELIL mobilized to craft arguments and submit supporting documents in time. The case, which was complicated by a lack of documents establishing the parent-child relationship, relied primarily on the fundamental principles of the best interests of the child and family unity. News of the application’s approval came in April 2021, and today the family awaits transfer to Germany to reunite with their son within the six-month deadline.

Policy News

The EU legal and policy environment affecting unaccompanied children continues to be dynamic. Alongside ongoing negotiations on reform of EU legislation concerning asylum and migration, there have been a number of important EU strategies published. Particularly, in March, the European Commission published The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee, which set out a series of priority areas for the EU in the field of children’s rights, identifying issues for children in migration across all of these areas, and EU action which will be taken, alongside recommendations for Member States in the field.

In April, the Commission published an EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025), followed by the EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration. Of specific interest to children is the EMN Report on the state of implementation in 2019 of the 2017 Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration.

Finally, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a landmark judgement in cases concerning the return of unaccompanied children in TQ v Staatssecretaris van Justitie en Veiligheid (Case C-441/19). Reflections on the significance of the judgment are available here.

Featured Resources

In February, Child Circle and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) Europe published a Briefing Paper with key recommendations on making proposed EU measures concerning migrant children at the EU external border more child-centred and child-sensitive. In light of the recent EU Migration and Asylum Pact and its accompanying proposals for mandatory EU border procedures, the paper reviews closely the issues that arise for children at EU borders, identifies challenges which need to be considered more closely, and shares detailed recommendations for screening and border measures.

Watch KIND and Child Circle team up for a webinar and discussion entitled, “Advancing protection for unaccompanied children in Europe.” The webinar draws on KIND and Child Circle’s report “Advancing Protection for Unaccompanied Children in Europe by Strengthening Legal Assistance,” the work of the KIND partners in Europe, and pro bono support from DLA Piper and White & Case.

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