Between Immigration Control and Child Protection: Unaccompanied Minors in Belgium


  • Katrien De Graeve Centre for Research on Culture and Gender, Department of Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University
  • Marianne Vervliet Department of Special Education, Centre for Adult Education TNA
  • Ilse Derluyn Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees & Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy Ghent University


unaccompanied minors, Belgium, reception and care structures, policies of control, children’s rights


This article describes the situation of Unaccompanied Minors (UAM) in Belgium, both in terms of their numbers and demographic profile and in terms of their health and educational challenges. It sketches the complex Belgian legal and policy framework that determines the organization and the quality of care and support of this particular group of minors. The paper lists policy outcomes, including the creation of a specialized care system for UAM, a guardianship service and a three phase trajectory of observation, stabilization and supported autonomy for most UAM. It also points to policy shortcomings, in particular in relation to UAM’s needs. The paper concludes by recommending more research on the experiences and perspectives of UAM and on the variety of psychological, contextual and social factors that influence their wellbeing.




Special Issue: "Unaccompanied Minors in Europe - Part I"