Vision Nidos on return
In the support of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (UMAs), Nidos is continually searching for a connection to the reality of the children. The subject of returning to the country of origin has already been a reality of UMAs for years, for which Nidos employees are continually in search of an effective way of representing the interests and offering support. A powerful approach by the guardian can contribute to a sustainable prospect for the UMA whose application for asylum has been rejected and therefore also contribute to solutions for this group for the European governments. The asylum policy is more and more a product of collaborating governments within the European Commission and can be seen for example in the preparations for the return project in Kabul. Nidos believes that the support of UMAs should become a European collaboration too, also in the case of return.
With its vision on return, Nidos’ aim is to make clear what Nidos as a guardianship institution stands for and what the position of the guardian is within this whole. The guardian has the task of representing the interests of the UMAs and promoting their development. When UMAs are confronted with an asylum procedure with no chance of success and the government wishes them to return to their country of origin, the guardian also has the task of representing the interests of UMAs and promoting their development as best as he or she can.
UMAs leave their country for various reasons; a communal factor in this is that they set off on a trip or are sent in search of developing a safer and better future prospect for themselves and often also for the larger family connection which they form part of. In the Netherlands, that prospect is often far from the case. Many UMAs are already confronted early in the procedure with a negative decision regarding the asylum application and the intention of the Dutch government to send them back to the country of origin as soon as possible. With this restrictive policy, the government also aims to deter potential new asylum seekers.
In the support of UMAs, Nidos is regularly confronted with the despair and powerlessness of UMAs who are not offered any future prospects in the Netherlands and therefore in the whole of Europe. Up until now, support in returning to the country of origin has only succeeded scantily and many youngsters leave for an unknown destination when they turn 18. Nidos is continually in search of possibilities of supporting UMAs and representing their interests, also if the prospect is a return.
Commitment from the youngster and his family
In enabling a sustainable return, the first concern is obtaining the commitment of the UMA to his return. The following elements are important in this regard: In the first place, the timing must be right. Often, it is impossible to speak to the UMA about a return until the return becomes a reality. From the beginning, as part of the support, there must be a discussion of life in the country of origin and the family and, if possible, from the beginning of the support, contact is maintained with the family. In making return plans, there must be a question of a return to care within a family connection that is safe for the UMA and with opportunities for him to develop. For this reason, depending on the age, permission is needed from the child about his place of residence and the possible transfer of guardianship. The UMA requires time and peace to get used to a different prospect than the prospect aimed for by him, and to work on trusting the people and organizations which the child will be involved within upon return. This means that support in returning is always tailor-made, and proper collaboration with chain partners such as Repatriation and Departure Service [DT&V] and the International Organization for Migration [IOM] is very important. Experiences of returned UMAs and other compatriots are important. Contact by the juvenile protector with the family about the impossibilities for the UMA in Europe takes the burden and guilt away from the child.
In the second place, for a sustainable return, commitment from the extended family is needed so that in collaboration with them and the child a future plan can be created. Furthermore, the more the family is committed to the return of the child, the more the child will be committed to his return. The collaboration with the extended family also offers good opportunities to already give form to the future prospect of the child in the country of origin while the child is still in Europe by, for example, following a focused training course. If there is no family available or if the family cannot offer sufficient safety, collaboration will be required with organizations in the countries of origin in order to find the family, search for alternative family care, check information, find training and work possibilities and to organize a possible guardian transfer and monitoring. The formation of focal points is a good initiative in this respect. When working on the return, it is also important that the network of an UMA in the Netherlands, such as mentors, teachers, foster parents and friends, support researching return possibilities. Sustainable return requires an investment in education in countries of origin. After all, one of the main motives to flee to the west is the search for a better existence, a better future prospect. The monitoring of the return process by local organizations is important in order to check whether the return is sustainable and the child is developing positively. An idea is to only allow the transfer of responsibilities, or termination of Nidos as guardian, after an aftercare period of for instance three months after return, and a report by a neutral organization whether the return has worked out according to plan, the child is staying at a safe and sustainable location and a possible new guardian is executing the task adequately and the interests of the child are being represented. In short, for working on sustainable returns, it is important that a double commitment is worked on, commitment from the child and commitment from his family.
Double Commitment from the child and his family can be achieved by means of the following:
– involving the family from the beginning in supporting the situation of the child and taking action regarding problems and future plans
– together with the UMA, determining at what time return possibilities will be researched
A sustainable return plan
– safe residence situation for the child
– prospect for the child of an independent existence by means of education or work
– development opportunities for the child
– a return plan made by or with approval and support from the family
– family-based care, preferably within the family, but otherwise within different forms
– return supported by local organizations.
Safeguarding sustainable return
– return is monitored by local and international organizations
– Nidos monitors and carries out case study management regarding the return plan and the first period of the return, so that the plan can be adapted if necessary with the aid of local organization and/or the family
– Nidos and chain partners learn from the positive and negative experiences and use these to adapt the method of work
Commitment from a UMA and his family to return is possible if a sustainable and safe return plan is drawn up in collaboration with the UMA and his family, with a prospect of an independent existence, based on correct and credible information, monitored by international and local organizations, with case study management by Nidos and management for the UMA and his family.