The Finnish EMN National Seminar on the 11th of October in Hotel Presidentti in Helsinki.
The integration and inclusion of unaccompanied minors
Summary, presentations and video links
The seminar attracted 200 participants as well as over 300 views of the live video stream from the event. The title of this year's seminar was The integration and inclusion of unaccompanied minors. An EMN study on this issue, comparing practices in the EU Member States, was completed during the summer of 2018. According to the Finnish national report, most unaccompanied minors arriving Finland are asylum seekers. In 2015, the number of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers was record high. Although, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving has declined since, the challenges faced in the integration and inclusion of minors are still causes for concern. The fact that many minors have been forced to move from one accommodation unit and municipality to another, has been considered to have a negative impact on both the well-being of the minors and on the progress of their integration. To a child, the most crucial factors in integration are the inclusion of the child and the permanence of their conditions.
The seminar provided interesting speeches and discussions on the integration and inclusion of unaccompanied minors in Finland and Europe.
National coordinator Ms. Kielo Brewis from the Finnish National EMN contact point opened the seminar (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgXcdUeWZ1A) after which Ms. Sonja Hämäläinen, Immigration Director at the Ministry for Employment and the Economy talked about the Government's particular responsibility towards unaccompanied minors and their integration.
Sonja Hämäläinen - presentation and video link (in Finnish):
Ms. Norma Rose from the EMN Service Provider, ICF, presented the EMN Study, Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in the EU plus Norway, that was published in the summer of 2018. The study provides comparative information from the EU Member States and Norway.
Norma Rose - presentation and video link (in English):
The next speaker was Mr. Mikko Hakkarainen from the European Commission who spoke about return and alternatives detention regarding unaccompanied minors. The detention of an unaccompanied minor should always be the last resort when the aim is to ensure an effective return and the best interest of the child must be taken into account in all stages of the process.
Mikko Hakkarainen - presentation and video link (in Finnish):
Ms. Federica Toscano from Missing Children Europe presented good practices in improving the protection of children from going missing.
Federica Toscano - presentation and video link (in English):
Mr. Tuomas Kurttila, the Finnish Ombudsman for Children stressed in his talk the particular importance of the best interest of the child in all procedures concerning unaccompanied minors. He also reflected upon the possibilities for integration and inclusion of unaccompanied minors into the Finnish society.
Tuomas Kurttila - video link (in Finnish):
M.D. Jari Sinkkonen, adjunct professor of child psychiatry. examined the significance of separation experiences for the psychological development of children and adolescents. It is evident that unaccompanied minors, who are separated from their families, are psychically in a very vulnerable position and this must be taken into account in all circumstances.
Jari Sinkkonen - presentation and video link (in Finnish):
Mr. Mikko Ylisuvanto, Service Director for integration at SOS-Lapsikylä spoke about the organization's experiences regarding integration, care and inclusion of unaccompanied minors. The work concentrates especially on making the unaccompanied minors feel safe and welcome in their new environment. Mikko presented, Hamidreza ja Rahollah, two youths who described their own experiences at the seminar.
Mikko Ylisuvanto and the youths of SOS-Lapsikylä, Hamidreza and Rahollah - video link (in Finnish):
Ms. Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto, Academy Research Fellow for the TRUST-Project gave her views on the significance of housing solutions and social support in integration. Housing solutions can be used to support and foster the inclusion of the unaccompanied minors. Education possibilities and social networks are also important factors in ensuring a good integration outcome.
Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto - presentation and video link (in Finnish):
The seminar ended with a panel discussion moderated By Ms. Jutta Saastamoinen and Mr. Rafael Bärlund from the Finnish EMN Contact Point. The discussion focussed on how unaccompanied minors can become a part of Finnish society. The discussants were Mr. Ahmad Hosseini, elected Refugee Man of the Year 2018, Ms. Elina Turjanmaa from the Institute for Migraton, Ms. Anna Bruun from the Ministry for Employment and the Economy, Ms. Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto from the TRUST-Project and Mr. Mikko Ylisuvanto from SOS-Lapsikylä.
The seminar audience was able to vote with their mobile phones among four themes for the panel to discuss. The two most popular themes chosen were schooling and further education as well as the safety net provided by the society and housing solutions.
Panel discussion - video link:
National coordinator Ms. Kielo Brewis from the Finnish National EMN contact point concluded the seminar and thanked all speakers and participants.
Kielo Brewis concluding remarks - video link (in Finnish):