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Rights don't stop when you turn 18

29. 05. 2019

Council of Europe issues recommendation on supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood

Member States of the Council of Europe should continue to provide support to young refugees, even after they turn 18 years old. This was the Committee of Ministers recommendation, adopted last month on 24 April, aimed at supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood.

The European Youth Forum welcomes the adoption of the recommendation. It is vital that young refugees continue to have access to social services, accommodation and welfare benefits to ensure an adequate standard of living. Moreover, the right to access information and legal advice, education and employment as well as to healthcare and psychological support does not and should not end on your 18th birthday. We must guarantee these rights on an equal footing with nationals.

The recommendation also underlines the importance of the role of youth work and youth organisations in assisting young refugees during the period of transition to adulthood. Governments must support youth organisations in fulfilling this role, including through the provision of financial resources.

The recommendation marks an important step in the right direction. We are, however, disappointed with the recommendation’s narrow focus that primarily addresses young people who have obtained or qualify for refugee status or subsidiary protection, thus linking support measures to immigration status and excluding other groups of young migrants and displaced youth.

Furthermore, it is regretful that the age range for the provision of temporary support is not explicitly defined or recommended, for example to provide support until at least the age of 21, but rather depends upon national or regional policy frameworks.

Nonetheless, the recommendation is a critical step towards ensuring support to young refugees in transition to adulthood. Member States must now act swiftly and decisively to implement the recommendation in cooperation with civil society, including refugee youth-led organisations and initiatives. Moreover, Member States should go beyond the scope of the recommendation to ensure support to all displaced and migrant youth in transition to adulthood.

The full text of the recommendation [CM/Rec(2019)4] is available in English and in French.

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