The number of people seeking refugee status in Europe has soared over recent years. This is due in large part to war in Syria and Iraq, as well as conflict and instability in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere. Children and young people form the vast majority of refugees across the world.

The Council of Europe’s youth policy aims at providing young people with equal opportunities and experience which enable them to develop knowledge, skills and competencies and to play a full part in all aspects of society. In fulfilling our mission to secure and provide equal opportunities, specific attention is paid to vulnerable groups of young people such as refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.

The 2016-2017 Youth for Democracy programme of the Council of Europe foresees several activities with youth organisations in this domain and is associating young refugees directly to these initiatives. In addition to various study sessions and seminars, significant attention has been drawn to the situation of unaccompanied minors in the transition to adulthood.

In October 2015, the Joint Council on Youth adopted a Statement on the refugee crisis in Europe which highlights some priorities and calls for special attention to particular vulnerable groups. In this statement, the Joint Council recalls the Council of Europe Youth Department’s on-going work to provide young people, including young refugees and asylum seekers, with capacity building opportunities to achieve inclusive and peaceful societies.

The activities of the youth sector of the Council of Europe with refugees and asylum seekers take into account the specific needs of young refugees. They include activities with youth organisations, such as the Voice of Young Refugees in Europe, and other study sessions held at the European Youth Centres in Budapest and Strasbourg.

Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees