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Vulnerabilities Beyond Age

Filling the gaps in asylum hearing procedures for unaccompanied minors

Almost 14,000 unaccompanied minors – children under the age of 18 – registered as asylum seekers in the European Union (EU) in 2019, according to Eurostat. The chances that they will receive asylum depend significantly on the story they tell. To address dilemmas in unaccompanied minors’ asylum hearing procedures and how to resolve these issues, the VULNER project organised a High-Level Expert Meeting  in October 2020. The meeting was chaired by project researchers Hilde Lidén (Institute for Social Research) and Sylvie Sarolea (Catholic University of Louvain).
Vulnerabilities Beyond Age

Key Messages

  • Trust is key: it takes time for children to trust an adult enough to give a full account of their experiences. Authorities should ensure that minors have trusting and supportive relationships with individuals related to their asylum hearing. 
  • For minors to fulfil their right to participate in their asylum hearing, they need to be educated about hearing procedures in a child-friendly manner. 
  • Though minors are inherently vulnerable due to their age, decision makers should utilise a holistic approach that also considers other vulnerabilities related to other personal characteristics, past or present experiences, cultural background and precarity of legal status. 
  • While policymakers are aware of best practices in asylum hearings for unaccompanied minors, implementation remains a challenge. 






Vulner and EU Logos

This work has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 870845. It reflects only the authors’ views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Read more about the VULNER project here and follow the project on Twitter.

Additional Information

Authors of Original Article


Lidén, H. & Sarolea, S. (2020). Vulnerabilities Beyond Age: Filling the gaps in asylum hearing procedures for unaccompanied minors. Population & Policy Compact 28, Berlin: Max Planck Society/Population Europe.