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Concluding Remarks

Returning to the starting point of this chapter—the narrative of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee boy—Sami, when interviewed, displayed his resilience and search for a long-term solution. Sami explained his aspiration, “I cannot wait to go to school in Germany” despite reception conditions in Greece: “We are not allowed to leave the camp. I am still waiting for food, I haven’t received any since yesterday morning and I am hungry” (Save the Children 2016). Sami’s voice recalls that securing rights for refugee children in Europe is vital for their protection and for reaching durable solutions even in the midst of “crisis” (ibid.). This chapter has analyzed national and EU-level policy and laws to reveal the extent to which the rights, protection, and well-being of refugee children have been considered and upheld and meaningful access to durable solutions granted.

This analysis establishes several key points. First, capacity is overwhelmed in the national asylum and social welfare systems, which require strengthening. Second, at the European level, the surrender of agreed principles of settled practice, coupled with incomplete implementation by member states in the solution of this humanitarian situation, has resulted in a lack of coordination as well as a child rights perspective on response mechanisms. Finally, the attainment of durable solutions in the best interests of the child is challenging for refugee children.

To properly address the flow of refugees into Europe, a coordinated, principled, and organized response is required—this so-called “crisis” should be managed so that the protection and well-being of refugee children is consistently guaranteed by measures taken at both the national and European Union levels. Durable solutions must be sought in line with the best interests of each refugee child, whether granting international protection that allows refugee children to successfully integrate into the country of asylum, a third country solution, or a legal admission pathway into Europe.

 
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