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.
In October 2015, the Joint Council on Youth adopted a Statement on the refugee crisis in Europe recalling the the need of providing young people, including young refugees and asylum seekers, with capacity building opportunities to achieve inclusive and peaceful societies.
The Joint Council of Youth has also included the Social inclusion of young refugees and their transition from childhood to adulthood in the strategic priorities for the 2018-2019 biennium of the youth sector.
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 is associating young refugees directly to these initiatives or encouraging them in creating own organisations and networks. In other study sessions and seminars held at the European Youth Centres in Budapest and Strasbourg, significant attention has been drawn to the situation of unaccompanied minors in the transition to adulthood.