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 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.

 Further reading

  • Group of Experts on Guidelines for supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood

Held in the framework of the Summer School Young refugees as actors for social inclusion and intercultural dialogue co-organised with the Global Platform for Syrian Students 30 August - 1 September 2017, Braga, Portugal

Guidelines for supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood >

  • Field research

UNHCR / Council of Europe field research on European State practice regarding transition to adulthood of unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking and refugee children 
March 2014 , Strasbourg, France

Study concerning the situation of unaccompanied and separated asylum seeking children >

  • Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees

Ensuring implementation of relevant commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), whilst managing overwhelming numbers of refugees and migrants, represents today a significant challenge for all member States of the Council of Europe. Several bodies of the Council of Europe have already been mobilised to provide assistance and support to the member States concerned. Against this background, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe appointed Ambassador Tomáš Boček as his Special Representative on Migration and Refugees.

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