Unaccompanied minors are a particularly vulnerable group of refugees and migrants. Crossing the border without their parents or a legal guardian or having been separated from the rest of their family during their journey to the new country, they need special support as far as going through procedures for making their stay in a given country legal is concerned. Due to the humanitarian crisis at the Poland-Belarus border and the war in Ukraine, Poland has seen an influx of unaccompanied minors. Reacting to a clear need, we are starting a project called “Support System for Accepting Unaccompanied Minors in Poland” for lawyers who would like to become guardians for such minors and for institutions working with unaccompanied minors.
The project attempts to address insufficient guardians available for unaccompanied minors under Polish law and it not being possible to accommodate all such unaccompanied minors in care and education establishments. We would also like to draw particular attention to unaccompanied minors at guarded centres for foreigners.
We hope that the implementation of the project will contribute to increasing the number of guardians qualified to represent the interests of unaccompanied minors, as well as to raising the competencies of care and support institutions as regards providing support to unaccompanied minors in legal procedures involving them.
Establishing a support and collaboration network connecting institutions involved in the projects and guardians is another important part of the project.
Individuals and institutions from all across Poland take part in the project, from Szczecin, through Lublin, Hajnówka, and Krosno, to Rzeszów and Katowice.
As part of their training to become a guardian, participants of the project complete courses covering the following subjects:
- Introduction – establishment of key concepts (core migration-related institutions, risks), guardianship over foreign children according to Polish law (rights and responsibilities, role, limitations).
- Return procedure applicable to unattended minors.
- Making the stay of an unaccompanied minor legal.
- International standards for assessing the extent to which children rights are protected, international guardianship standards.
- International protection of unaccompanied foreign minors.
- Practical aspects of guardianship over a foreign child – social organisations, Office for Foreigners.
- Human trafficking – identification and countermeasures.
- Psychological side of work with a foreign child.
Project financed using funds from HIAS.