The lure of the missing asylum-seeking children - A comparative study on policy directed unaccompanied minors in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the UK during 2000 until 2008
the Department of Sociology the University of Gothenburg Göteborg, Sweden
This paper aims to analyze how the construction of missing asylum-seeking children as a social problem in the medial debate, has come to shape the way national and supranational (EU) frame work, policy papers and guidelines has formulated official responsibilities towards unaccompanied minors.
As part of Schengen and the Dublin convent the EU member states are to take joint action regarding asylum policies; a refugee (over or under 18 years of age) can only have its asylum claim processed in one EU country, the member states are to unite in combating "smuggling of illegal aliens" and to vanquish "trafficking in humans". Regardless of policy integration and the construction of one external EU borderline; "migration" as such is considered rather controversial in many European countries. Narratives concerning "asylum seeking children who goes missing from official contacts" constitute part of this public debate.
During 2000 until 2008 accounts of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who go missing traceless from refugee centers, or social service facilities, has been featured in daily news in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. Such instances has often been used as important angles of incidence through which issues, concerning the wellbeing of underage and unaccompanied migrants applying for asylum, has become addressed on the public agenda. Even though similarities exists in between the four countries when it comes to framing the public perspective of missing asylum seeking children, different conceptualization of why these children disappear also subsist.
Sometimes these episodes are constructed as cases of "missing children", leading to groups of claimants making calls for further action regarding "missing children" in general. "Unaccompanied minors who vanish" has also been alleged as to be proof of children being trafficked through the asylum system.
The sample of empirical material consist of Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and British policy, frame work and guidelines concerning official treatment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors: from the point of their first asylum application/official contact until the asylum claim has been processed. Important EU directives and policies have also been analyzed in this regard.