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Monitoring the situation of children returned from EU Member States - New Project

January 2013, Budapest, Hungary: The Regional office of Terre des hommes, together with 11 partner NGOs, and thanks to the co-funding of the European Union, have launched a new project to analyse the situation of children that have been returned to six different South-East European countries from the EU. Tdh and its partners will articulate their research around the best interests of the child principle and make sure that children’s rights are upheld. They will also try to provide decision-makers and service providers with a post-return monitoring framework when a return decision has been firmly grounded into a best interests determination procedure.

In recent years a large number of children – originating from the Balkans – have been returned from different European countries.The project will explore whether returning country authorities have in fact based their decisions on a best interests determination procedure, and, where that was the case, whether any follow-up has been done to see how the child was reintegrated in its country of origin.

In six countries of origin (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) each partner NGOs will identify at least 20 children that have been returned and will – through regular visits – make sure that these children are well integrated both in schools (or work) and in society. During these visits partners may contribute to material needs and assist children to access appropriate educational programs. Volunteer peer mentors will also be recruited and trained to assist these youngsters with integration in their peer groups.

On the research side, questionnaires on the return process and post return follow-up will be filled on each case contributing to a research that will inform, and potentially contribute to the design of a post-return monitoring framework when attached to best interests determination procedures.

Between 14-18 January all partners will meet in Budapest to discuss the operational details of the project and most importantly, to define the methodology and tools that will be used throughout the 14-month long empirical research. (JA)