United Nations

A/50/555


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

16 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 109


    REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES,
    QUESTIONS RELATING TO REFUGEES, RETURNEES AND DISPLACED
PERSONS AND HUMANITARIAN QUESTIONS

Assistance to unaccompanied refugee minors

Report of the Secretary-General


I.  INTRODUCTION

1.  At its  forty-ninth session, on  23 December 1994, the General  Assembly
adopted resolution 49/172, which, inter alia:

  (a)   Called upon  all Governments,  the Secretary-General,  the Office of
the United  Nations High  Commissioner for  Refugees (UNHCR)  and all  other
United Nations  organizations and  non-governmental organizations  concerned
to exert  the maximum  effort to  assist and  protect refugee minors  and to
expedite   the  return  to   and  reunification   with  their   families  of
unaccompanied minors;

  (b)  Requested UNHCR and other  United Nations organizations concerned  to
take appropriate steps to mobilize resources  commensurate to the needs  and
interests  of the  unaccompanied refugee  minors and  for  the reunification
with their families;

  (c)   Condemned  all acts  of  exploitation  of the  unaccompanied minors,
including  their use  as soldiers  or human  shields in  armed  conflict and
their  recruitment into military  forces, and  any other  acts that endanger
their safety and personal security;

  (d)    Called  upon  the  Secretary-General,  the  High  Commissioner, the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs  of the Secretariat,  the United  Nations
Children's  Fund  (UNICEF)   and  other  United  Nations  organizations   to
mobilize,  within existing  resources, adequate assistance  to unaccompanied
minors  in  the  areas   of  relief,  education,  health  and  psychological
rehabilitation;


95-31160 (E)   261095/...
*9531160*

  (e)  Requested the  Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at
its fiftieth session on the implementation of the resolution.


II.  BACKGROUND

2.   Children  usually  constitute  over 50  per cent  of the  total refugee
population.  Because they are vulnerable,  dependent and developing, refugee
children need  targeted care  and assistance.   Unaccompanied children  have
the  same requirements.   In  addition,  they  have specific  protection and
assistance needs.  The present report  focuses on protection and  assistance
needs that are specific  to refugee children who  have become separated from
their families.

3.  In keeping with  the Convention on the Rights of  the Child, a  child is
considered to be  a person below the age of  18 years unless, under the  law
applicable to the  child, majority is  attained earlier.  The  term "refugee
child"  may  be understood  to  include  those  children  who are  refugees,
returnees, asylum-seekers and displaced persons of concern to UNHCR.

4.   Every effort  should be  made to  keep families together  in a  refugee
emergency and  to prevent abandonment of  children.  It is therefore crucial
that assistance is targeted  to vulnerable families  to enable them to  keep
their  children, including  foster children.   Assistance  to  unaccompanied
children should focus on protection of  their rights, including their  right
to grow up in  a family environment, and thus concentrate on family  tracing
and reunification efforts and on placing  children in contexts that  provide
the unaccompanied child with family-like emotional support.

5.   Unaccompanied children  are those who  are separated  from both parents
and are  not  being  cared  for  by an  adult  who,  by law  or  custom,  is
responsible for doing so.  The term "separated child" is being  increasingly
used by some organizations to convey clearly the  message that the child  in
question  is  not  necessarily   living  on  his  or  her  own  without  the
accompaniment of an adult, but has become separated from his or her  parents
or guardians.   While  the two  terms cover  the  same reality,  "separated"
focuses on what is  often the heart  of the problem, and thus  indicates the
solution.

6.  Many factors  contribute to the difficulty  in determining the number of
unaccompanied children  world wide.  Reliable  statistics, the awareness  of
the  presence  of  unaccompanied  refugee  children  and  the  way  in which
countries record  such children  vary greatly.   With  ongoing reunification
efforts and  new separations of families,  numbers fluctuate.  The nature of
the refugee situation and the circumstances  of flight, including the  level
of  violence  and suddenness,  are  important  elements in  determining  the
likelihood  of  the   presence  of  significant  numbers  of   unaccompanied
children.

7.   Unaccompanied children  may constitute  3 to  5 per  cent of the  total
refugee  (or  forcibly  displaced) population.    In  the Rwanda  emergency,
unaccompanied  refugee  children  represented  about  3.5  per  cent of  the
refugee  population in  July  1995.    In  South-East  Asia,  in  1992  they
constituted about  4.5 per  cent of  the total  Vietnamese camp  population.
Today, nearly 300 Vietnamese unaccompanied children  still live in camps  in
exile; some  of them  arrived as asylum-seekers  as early as  1989 and  have
spent most  of their  childhood in  the  artificial environment  of a  camp.
Around  6,000 unaccompanied children  from the  Sudan, now  living in Kakuma
camp in Kenya,  form another group who have  been deprived of normal  family
and community  life  for many  years.   On the  other hand,  there were  few
unaccompanied children among the Myanmar refugees  in Bangladesh, as is also
the case with  the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.   In the Chechnya  emergency
in the Russian  Federation, relatively few unaccompanied children have  been
identified.

8.   Many of the examples  used in the  present report to illustrate efforts

to assist and protect  unaccompanied refugee children in areas of concern to
the General  Assembly are  taken from  the Rwanda/Burundi  emergency.   This
emergency  has created by far the highest number  of unaccompanied minors in
recent  years;  in  July  1995  some  117,000  unaccompanied  children  were
identified.   In this  situation, Governments, UNHCR,  other United  Nations
organizations  and  non-governmental  organizations  concerned have  exerted
great efforts  to assist and protect  unaccompanied refugee  children and to
expedite reunification with  their families.   Examples from  that emergency
are  also  helpful in  illustrating  some of  the  general  dilemmas  in the
protection of and assistance to unaccompanied children.

9.    In the  Rwanda/Burundi  emergency  UNHCR  has  established a  Regional
Support  Unit for  Refugee  Children  based  in  Kigali.   UNICEF  also  has
deployed  specialists on  the subject  of unaccompanied  children to  advise
agency staff,  government counterparts  and implementing partners.   Both in
Rwanda  and Zaire, a  number of  national non-governmental organizations are
involved  with   the  care   and  management   of  unaccompanied   children.
Coordination,  collaboration and  a uniform  regional approach  is  enhanced
through,  inter  alia, the  efforts of  the  Regional  Support Unit  and the
UNICEF advisers.  


III.  INTER-AGENCY COOPERATION

10.   UNHCR is  mandated to  provide international  protection to  refugees,
including  refugee  children, and  to  promote  durable  solutions to  their
problems.  UNICEF has, in  accordance with its mandate,  been called upon by
its   Executive  Board  to  provide  emergency  assistance  to  refugee  and
displaced women and children.

11.  Typically, unaccompanied children are  found both within their  country
of origin  and in  exile among refugee  populations.  UNICEF  is the  agency
responsible for  coordination of support  to unaccompanied children in their
own country,  while UNHCR  is  responsible for  coordinating protection  and
assistance  for  refugee   populations.    The  two  organizations   jointly
establish  overall  policies   and  guidelines  and  ensure  the   necessary
operational  coordination  and  information-sharing  between  operations  in
countries  of  asylum and  of  origin.  Both  agencies  coordinate with  the
International Committee  of the  Red Cross  (ICRC) in  relation to  tracing,
reunification activities  and general policy.  Examples of how  coordination
and collaboration have worked in practical terms are given below.

 12.  In the exercise of its responsibilities, and through the  Inter-Agency
Standing  Committee,   the  Department  of   Humanitarian  Affairs  of   the
Secretariat has been engaged  in coordination of  assistance to a number  of
complex emergencies  where the  number of  unaccompanied children  suffering
displacement was very high.

13.  In September  1995, a meeting  on family tracing and reunification  was
organized by the  Save the Children Fund-UK with the participation of UNHCR,
UNICEF,  ICRC, the International  Federation of  Red Cross  and Red Crescent
Societies (IFRC)  and representatives  of some  Governments responsible  for
large  groups of  unaccompanied children.   The  purpose was  to  develop an
operational  framework  for the  management  of  unaccompanied  children  in
future emergencies  and to consolidate  technical and professional  practice
in this area.


IV.  IDENTIFICATION, REGISTRATION AND TRACING

14.   A first  step in  addressing the  needs of  unaccompanied children  is
their  early  identification and  the  collection  of  timely, detailed  and
accurate  information on their  number and whereabouts.   There  has been an
increasing  awareness in  the international  community of the  importance of
early and accurate  registration.  The tracing  role of ICRC, including  the
centralized database for registration of unaccompanied children world  wide,

is important  in that  regard. There  is also  a common  recognition of  the
importance  of  sharing  data  about  the  children to  facilitate  tracing,
bearing  in mind  the best  interests  of  the child,  especially protection
considerations.

15.  The evacuation of children from the  conflict in the former  Yugoslavia
presented  the international community  with particular  challenges.  It has
been difficult to establish with certainty  that all unaccompanied  children
have been  identified and  registered.   This  is  due  in part  to  initial
disregard by some non-professional parties of  certain basic rules, such  as
ensuring  proper  registration  of  the  child   and  the  sharing  of  such
information with the child welfare authorities in the  country of exile.  In
addition, evacuation  figures were  inflated in  the earlier  stages of  the
conflict;  there were  tracing difficulties  due  to  problems of  access to
conflict areas and refugees  from the former Yugoslavia were evacuated to  a
large number of asylum countries.

16.  The UNHCR Operation  ReUNite was created as  an additional registration
and tracing tool in  the situation described above.   The system consists of
a  database   containing  digitalized   pictures  of   children  and   other
information  facilitating  easy  computer  search  for  records  of  missing
children.  Over 6,300  children in and from  the former Yugoslavia have been
registered  in the  database. Although  these  children are  separated  from
their parents, they are often living with more distant relatives.

17.   UNICEF has  developed a  system in  conjunction with  non-governmental
organizations   for   the   registration,  tracing   and   reunification  of
unaccompanied  children.   The system  is being successfully  implemented in
Rwanda.   Organizations  working   with  unaccompanied   children  are  also
exploring  ways  to support  existing  registration  initiatives  and  share
information so that implementing partners can  begin active tracing as early
as possible.   One such  example is  ICRC or the  Save the Children  Fund-UK
training   of   non-governmental   organizations   to  ensure   registration
compatibility  and proper  safeguards  to protect  children,  combined  with
local knowledge of the child's family and community.

18.   Children's needs in  refugee emergencies are  being assessed from  the
outset  with the help of UNHCR special standby arrangements with the Swedish
non-governmental organization Radda Barnen, designed to ensure that  trained
community services  officers are  deployed with  the emergency  teams.   The
immediate attention  to unaccompanied  children in  emergencies has  greatly
enhanced the timeliness  and the quality of the response to their needs.  In
1994 such  staff were  deployed to emergencies  in Liberia,  Uganda and  the
United Republic  of Tanzania,  and in  1995 to Dagestan,  North Ossetia  and
Ingushetia, in the Russian Federation.

19.   Developments during 1994 and 1995 in  the Rwanda emergency highlighted
the problem  of abandonment of children  by their  own impoverished families
in the belief that the children would have better access to food and  social
services through  unaccompanied children's  centres set  up by  humanitarian
agencies  in  refugee and  displaced  persons  camps.    Two initiatives  to
support  family unity  are  worth  mentioning in  this  context:   one is  a
prevention  of  abandonment  programme  to  assist  vulnerable  families  to
continue  caring  for their  children,  developed  by  Food  for the  Hungry
International and  supported by  UNHCR.  The  second initiative is  a family
mediation programme, developed by UNICEF and  aimed at reuniting children in
centres with their families.   Specific steps have  been taken to  train the
concerned  staff  to  provide children  and  families  with  counselling and
material  support.   An extra  food ration  card, an  additional blanket  or
piece of  plastic sheeting may be all that is required to enable families to
provide for reunited children.

20.   Since  the onset  of  the  Rwandan  emergency, over  16,000  separated
children had been reunited with parents and extended family  members by July
1995.  Multi-agency involvement,  decentralization of  responsibilities  and
inter-agency information-sharing are  key elements in this regional  effort.

Different  tracing  methods are  used to  locate  scattered family  members.
These include:

  (a)  Active tracing, including dissemination  of children's names at  food
distribution centres, markets and other public focal points;

  (b)   Family mediation programmes to  enable children  who entered centres
for unaccompanied  children because  of poverty,  food  shortages or  social
problems to return to their families;

  (c)  Photo-tracing for difficult to trace cases;

  (d)  Messages sent through ICRC  to re-establish contact between separated
family members;

  (e)    Database tracing  to  track and  match  family members  in  various
countries.

 21.  If missing  children are located, the first problem has been overcome,
but the  second challenge,  to reunite  family members  living in  different
countries,  sometimes proves  extremely difficult,  or very  time-consuming.
Obstacles to  speedy reunification for  children whose  family members  have
been located  in another country are  sometimes of  an inter-country nature,
such  as determining the  country in  which reunification  should take place
and  establishing the procedures to follow.  Sometimes  the child is advised
against joining  his or her  parents, for legitimate  reasons, such as  when
the  reunion would take  place in  a conflict  zone.  Adults  in the refugee
community  may advise  the child  not to  go home  for other  reasons.   The
nature of such problems and the justification for their being raised may  be
very different,  but  the results  tend to  be  the  same the  child is  not
reunited with the family, or it takes too long.


V.  PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION

22.   The psychosocial  needs of  refugee children  are receiving  increased
attention, compared with only  a few years ago.   Many refugee children have
suffered  the trauma  of violence,  separation  and  loss, which  time alone
cannot heal.   Community-based interventions  to help  restore normality  to
the extent possible usually  have two main thrusts.  Firstly, they involve a
preventive  measure, enhancing  all those  factors which  promote the  well-
being of  children. Secondly, they include the remedial assistance necessary
to ensure  that children  who have  been harmed  or have  special needs  are
provided assistance  to  recover. Most  of  the  measures described  in  the
present report,  such as tracing, reunification  and good foster  placement,
contribute  to restoring normality  and promoting well-being.  The provision
of education  is also important in bringing  normality back to the life of a
refugee child.

23.   UNHCR has  carried out  much of  its field  work for the  psychosocial
well-being of children through community services and education  programmes,
with a relatively limited focus on  individual children who need specialized
services.   Professional   mental   health  programmes   are   provided   in
collaboration with specialized non-governmental organizations.

24.  UNICEF has  focused over the years on provision of trauma  counselling.
This is  primarily done  within the  context  of its  community approach  to
massive rehabilitation of  unaccompanied children.  Child-care workers  from
the community are trained to identify and provide initial care for  children
traumatized  by war,  violence and  separation  from  their families.   Such
assistance  has been provided  in Angola,  Rwanda, Burundi,  Liberia and the
countries of the former Yugoslavia.

25.    Among the  unaccompanied  refugee  children  in  Goma, Zaire,  UNICEF
estimates that around 25  per cent are severely traumatized.  To respond  to
the  problem,  UNICEF  has  set   up  psychosocial  activities  through  its

implementing partners. 


 VI.  SOME PERSISTENT PROTECTION PROBLEMS

26.   The  Executive Committee  of  the  High Commissioner's  Programme  has
repeatedly  expressed  its  concern  about  the  risk  facing  unaccompanied
refugee  children in respect  of military recruitment.   It  has called upon
States hosting refugees, most recently in  1994, in close collaboration with
UNHCR  and  other relevant  organizations,  and  consistent with  the  UNHCR
Guidelines  on  Refugee  Children,  to  safeguard  the security  of  refugee
children and to ensure  that they are not  recruited into military  or other
armed groups.

27.    Allegations of  recruitment  of  refugee  children  as combatants  or
"assistants" to the military  or cases of  children who are living with  the
military for alleged protection purposes, continue  to emerge in  situations
of armed conflict.  The secretive way in  which such recruitment is  usually
done,  the difficulties  in obtaining  information about child  recruits and
the  fact  that  such  recruitment  is  often  carried  out  by non-official
military groupings increase the difficulty of finding rapid solutions.

28.   It  is  the responsibility  of host  Governments  to ensure  that  the
necessary measures  are taken  to prevent  military coercion, especially  of
children, in  refugee camps.  UNHCR  strongly advocates  measures to protect
children  from  being recruited  into  military  activities,  such as  those
ensuring  that children  below  the age  of  15  years  are not  allowed  to
volunteer.   Human  rights training  of refugee  adults and children  is one
important channel  for such advocacy.   UNICEF  may seek to  influence armed
groups in the country of origin to respect  humanitarian law and to  refrain
from recruiting  children.  UNICEF,  through its  Operation Lifeline  Sudan,
reports that  opposition groups have signed  a new set  of ground rules  for
the Operation, which contain a commitment to the  principles set out in  the
Convention on  the Rights of the Child and the Geneva Conventions, and a set
of humanitarian principles.

29.  In Sierra  Leone, UNICEF has also carried  out an advocacy campaign for
the  demobilization of  child combatants both  in the country  and among the
refugee population.  Rehabilitation of  former child combatants  or children
who have lived with the  military and their reintegration  into their family
and community is often a challenge.   UNICEF, actively supported by  certain
non-governmental  organizations such  as  the International  Catholic  Child
Bureau and Radda Barnen, has taken a lead in those activities.

30.   A particular  challenge facing  those responsible for  the liberty and
well-being of  refugee children  is the  occurrence of  situations in  which
children live  with or under  alleged control of  former military  in camps.
Efforts are  made to separate  these children from  the former military  and
establish vocational training and rehabilitation programmes.

31.   Other protection problems  confronting unaccompanied refugee  children
include deprivation,  neglect  or abuse,  which  may  occur both  in  foster
families and in  institutions.  For  example, there have  been incidents  of
sexual exploitation  of unaccompanied girls by  camp officials, security  or
military personnel.   UNHCR has brought many such incidents to the attention
of  the  concerned authorities,  which  often  results  in  the abuse  being
brought to  an end.  The development  of agreed  guidelines and  procedures,
training  activities and  close  monitoring of  the  child's  well-being and
options are measures to  be taken to  prevent such abuse.  Advice on  how to
help children  is included  in the  recently published  UNHCR guidelines  on
prevention of and response to sexual violence against refugees.

32.  Evacuation and  adoption of refugee children tend to arise as issues in
most major  emergency situations.  UNICEF and UNHCR, together  with ICRC and
IFRC have  issued joint statements, specific  to the  conflict situations in
the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda,  which contain, inter alia, considerations

and  policies  on  evacuation,  adoption,  registration,  tracing  and   the
importance of keeping families together. 

33.  The  joint statements have  been well  received.   It is believed  that
they have  contributed to  reducing the  number of  well-intended, but  ill-
conceived evacuations  of children while at  the same  time providing advice
on  alternative  ways  to  help.    The  Executive  Committee of  UNHCR  has
expressed  concern   that  despite   the  efforts   described  above,   some
evacuations  continue to  be  undertaken  in an  irregular  manner,  without
adequate registration and documentation, thus reducing the possibilities  of
reuniting such children with their families.


VII.  REPATRIATION AND REINTEGRATION

34.  Preparatory work  and exchange of  information both in and between  the
country of  asylum and  the country  of origin  is crucial  to ensuring  the
sustainability  - to the extent  possible - of  relationships such as foster
placement.  Finding  solutions to problems that  might lead a  foster family
to  abandon an unaccompanied child  in a repatriation process,  may ensure a
certain continuity  in the  life of the child  and reduce the risk  that the
child,  if  abandoned,  will join  the  ranks of  street  children or  other
children at risk of exploitation and abuse.

35.   In the  draft memorandum  of understanding  between  UNICEF and  UNHCR
currently  under  discussion,  the  role  of   UNICEF  in  facilitating  the
reintegration of  vulnerable returnee children is  highlighted.  Country  of
origin authorities  may need support in  the re-establishment  of child care
and monitoring  systems for vulnerable  children in  returnee areas.   It is
also important that family tracing  and reunification efforts continue after
repatriation for those  whose families have  not been found.   Cambodia  and
Mozambique are  among countries where such  efforts continue.   While UNICEF
in  Mozambique  continues to  support  institutions  assisting disadvantaged
children, methods  of reuniting  children  living in  orphanages with  their
families are under review.

36.    UNHCR has,  together with  non-governmental  organizations and  local
authorities, established or  promoted projects  in countries of origin,  for
example Haiti  and Viet  Nam, to  trace families  of unaccompanied  children
living in camps in  exile, among them alleged orphans, to prepare the return
of  the child and  to facilitate and  monitor reintegration  into the family
and the community.


 VIII.  SOME LESSONS LEARNT

37.  Efforts to provide protection  and assistance to unaccompanied children
in most parts  of the world have  enabled UNHCR, sometimes in  collaboration
with  UNICEF, to document  some consistent  lessons learnt  and to translate
them  into handbooks and  guidelines.   Among those  lessons reiterated over
the past year are:

  (a)    Coordination,  leadership  and  clearly  communicated  policy   and
guidelines  are  essential  in  the  early  parts  of  a  refugee emergency,
involving  the host Government,  the refugee community, other United Nations
agencies and concerned non-governmental organizations.   There is a need  to
establish and communicate  clear priorities  and procedures,  and to  ensure
the agreement of all parties involved;

  (b)    The best  interests of  the individual  child should  determine the
protection,  care   and   placement   of   unaccompanied   children   during
emergencies. For example, if foster placement  is a viable option, generally
it should be  preferred to institutional care,  even if the  availability of
resources  from  certain private  donors  would  favour  the  latter.   Host
Governments, country of  origin Governments and the international  community
face a  major public information challenge  in trying to solicit and channel

the support  of such  donors into  options that  are in  the best  long-term
interests of the children;

  (c)  An  awareness of the customs, beliefs  and child care  practices of a
refugee  community is  critical  to  successful intervention.    There  are,
however,  what  may rightfully  be  seen  as  basic  needs of  unaccompanied
children all over the world.   Among them are  protection from exploitation,
the  necessity for material  assistance and  human attachments,  and support
from their own community;

  (d)    When  it  is  evident  that  unaccompanied  children  constitute  a
significant  component of  a  refugee  emergency,  a child  specialist  with
experience in  similar situations should be  deployed immediately.   In most
refugee  emergencies over the  last two  years, the  deployment of community
service  staff  as  part  of  emergency   teams  has  greatly  enhanced  the
timeliness  and  the quality  of  response  to  the  needs of  unaccompanied
children;

  (e)  Tracing and family reunification  work are very labour-intensive  and
may  require   a  long-term   commitment  from  qualified   non-governmental
organizations.  For example,  foster placement in the best interests of  the
child  may  require  difficult  outreach  work  and  monitoring  and,  where
necessary, corrective action over many years;

  (f)  A two-pronged  approach to meeting the needs of children is necessary
in an  emergency;  while  establishing  procedures  to  assist  and  protect
unaccompanied children from the very beginning, vulnerable and  impoverished
families must be supported  in their efforts  to care for their children  in
the family;

  (g)  Care must  be taken  not to contribute to  the splitting up of  other
families.   Assistance must not be  provided in such  a way that  vulnerable
families  are  led  to  believe  that   unaccompanied  children  are  in   a
"privileged"  class,  standing  a  greater  chance  of  survival than  other
children -  that they are given  more and better  food, better medical  care
and  better  access  to  education  facilities  than  children  living  with
families.   In Goma,  Zaire, 60  per cent of the  children placed in centres
for alleged orphans are found to have relatives in nearby camps;

  (h)  Where it  is seen as necessary to establish centres for unaccompanied
children, they should  not be segregated and  located away from  the overall
refugee  population.   In  order to  improve the  quality  of  care, centres
should be  organized  in family-like  units  where  a care-giver  or  "house
mother"  is  responsible  for a  small  group of  children  of varied  ages.
Children need access to adequate adult  supervision, role models and  caring
family life.  Re-establishing as normal an  environment as  possible for the
child is vital;

  (i)   The presence  of child  care facilities such  as an  orphanage or  a
supplementary  feeding  centre   may  in  itself  exert  an  influence   and
facilitate  abandonment.    The  prevention  of  abandonment  of   children,
voluntary  separation  and  family  disintegration  can  in  some  cases  be
countered through  knowledge about  why children  have  been separated  from
their  original  families  and  be  addressed  through  protection  of   and
assistance to  the family.  Children  are abandoned, for example, because of
lack of food or shelter, or when the  family sees its situation as hopeless.
The  objective is to support the family unit in such a  way that it can stay
together;

  (j)   There  is a  need  for  active dissemination,  awareness-raising and
enforcement  by government officials  of agreed  policies and  positions.  A
government  commitment   to  establishing  family   reunification  and  non-
institutional  care  as the  official  strategies  would  serve  as a  basic
reference point  for actions on behalf of unaccompanied children.   It would
also  prevent the  establishment of  costly and  inappropriate services that
make corrective action difficult and labour-intensive.


IX.  CONCLUSION

38.   Despite tragedies  that continue  to affect  children as  a result  of
conflict  and  persecution,  progress  has  been  made  in  the  quality and
timeliness of  the international community's response to the problems facing
unaccompanied   minors.  UNHCR   is  collaborating   closely  with   UNICEF,
Governments,  ICRC  and   non-governmental  organizations  to   enhance  the
protection  of   and  assistance  to   unaccompanied  children  in   refugee
situations. 

39.   A closer  and developing  collaboration between UNHCR  and UNICEF will
aim  at further  improving emergency  response,  at  the same  time ensuring
compatibility with  long-term solutions  for the  child, most  often, it  is
hoped,  to be found in the country of origin.  It  is also expected that the
systematic approach  to the  needs  of unaccompanied  minors by  specialized
non-governmental  organizations  will  further  contribute  to  an  improved
response to their needs.


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Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
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