Young refugees are among the most vulnerable groups. They may have had experiences involving violence, exploitation and trauma, and the risk of violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms continues.  This is especially so for those who are not accompanied or have been separated from their families.  The Council of Europe has adopted recommendations on supporting these young refugees in their transition to adulthood.In 2019, the Council of Europe adopted guidelines that it recommends to the governments of the member states to support young refugees in their transition to adulthood.  These guidelines aim at ensuring that young refugees receive additional temporary support after the age of 18 to enable them to access their rights, and at recognising and strengthening the role of youth work and the youth sector in promoting better access to these rights, including through their work to build social cohesion and inclusion. 

The recommendation

They also invite the governments to give due consideration to the specific needs and situations of young women and of young men in the implementation of these guidelines.

The guidelines are available in the Committee of Ministers' recommendation CM/Rec(2019)4, which is part of the Council of Europe's Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe.

The roadmap for implementation

At its meeting in October 2019, the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) adopted a roadmap for the dissemination and implementation of recommendation CM/Rec(2019)4 in 2019-2021.  This roadmap is based on the combined work and co-operation between public authorities in member states, youth organisations and the Council of Europe Youth Department.  For more information on who is doing what, please consult the sections below:

The Action Plan provides concrete action to protect children fleeing war, violence and persecution. It proposes concrete support to member states at all stages of the migration process, with a special focus on unaccompanied children, and has three main pillars:

  • ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures;
  • providing effective protection;
  • enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe.

In this video, Janeta Hanganu, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, and Florian Cescon, Head of the Youth Policy Division in the Youth Department, explain how to use these guidelines.