October marks the beginning of the SB OverSeas’ “SB Espoir” project’s winter cycle of activities with unaccompanied minors and women who are seeking asylum in Belgium.
For this cycle, we recruited a new enthusiastic group of volunteers that will be joining us that we met last weekend at our training and awareness day.
For us, it is mandatory for them to attend a training before starting the activities and from the questions and the reactions we got during this training, I realized even more the importance of training. It has come to my attention, however, that not all of the asylum authorities in the country have received training in regards to unaccompanied minors arriving to the country.
Working with refugees means, quite often, that you will come face-to-face with the realities of those who are suffering acute trauma and loss apart from just their physical displacement; in the case of these young people, it’s a result of the migration journey that they’ve made on their own. As noted in the report done by UNHCR regarding unaccompanied minors, most members of the police have not receive training in regards to the specific needs and protections of young people. These individuals are often the first point of contact in Belgium and the ones that have to signal the presence of a minor and their vulnerability. Although it is important to point out that in most cases they have received training on the thematic of victims, specially of human trafficking, it is still alarming that even though the number of young people arriving to the country have been multiplying in the previous years, there is still no specific training on the subject.
These young people on the move must go through a series of interviews and assessments in order to be identified as minors and to receive their right of protection from the state. It is understandable that these processes pose a challenge, administrative procedures are not the easiest to understand. However, many of the tutors that the minors been assigned, say that when government officials have received training and know how to approach minors and help them understand the process using easier terminology, hand signals and other tools, there is a significant difference on the way the youth responds and makes them feel more welcome to the country.
It is important for everyone who works with refugees to receive training, this facilitates not only the administrative processes of asylum seeking but also it helps starting a healing and adaptation process into the county. Without professional guidance how can we start building?