For more than ten years the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (Bundesfachverband unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge, in short: BumF) has been working towards the improvement of the legal situation of minors, who come to Germany without the support of a guardian. We work to ensure standards of protection in line with international norms and best practices.
The Federal Association (BumF) is a registered organization with three members in the board of directors. The head office is situated in Berlin. The organization has a total of almost 220 members, including more than 60 other organizations. The Federal Association (BumF) pursues several different, however compatible, goals. These include:
Up to date unaccompanied minors (in short: uam) are accommodated in common housing without need-specific support. Often times they are denied access to youth welfare services. So far the introduction of a nation-wide age-specific accommodation standard has not been feasible (?) – in spite of the existing legal situation in Germany. Our aim is to improve this situation, particularly with regards to reception, accommodation, the guardianship system, access to health care and education. Furthermore, our goal is to improve the quality of treatment of uam and to monitor the implementation of national law (Youth Welfare Act) and policies (UN CRC State Report and Concluding Observations) as well as EU legislation, (Dublin Regulation). Special focus is placed on the implementation of a nationwide system of clearing centres (initial reception centres for uam).
Young refugees experience a challenging process upon their arrival in Germany. Their integration within the society is often hindered by numerous obstacles. Nevertheless, many adolescents succeed in actively leading a socially committed life and fulfilling their personal dreams and goals. We encourage and support young refugees to step up for their concerns and raise their voices e.g. in expert conferences, through press activities and information campaigns.
The specific situation of unaccompanied minors as well as their needs, legal situation and access to school and education raises the demand for the continuous exchange of experiences and accomplishments within every-day-life of all involved persons. Therefore, the Federal Association (BumF) regularly organizes expert conferences and seminars with different topics and is striving to provide expertise and the necessary resources. We do this in order to achieve child sensitive good quality standards with regard to the treatment of uam to all concerned persons.
As work with unaccompanied minors is usually organized on the municipal level, it is of great importance that individuals involved in the field learn from each other, support each other and develop models of best-practice together. We have developed a network which brings together persons involved with (the work with) refugees and adolescents, politically interested and actively engaged individuals, organizations concerned with children´s rights and municipal agencies. Furthermore, we collaborate with youth welfare institutions, psycho-counselling centres, refugee and human rights organizations (UNHCR, Pro Asyl, terre des hommes, Unicef) as well as federal agencies (e.g. he Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) and projects in the EU.
Political leaders have come to realize how important and urgent it is that further steps towards the improvement of the situation of uam be taken – however, their number is rather limited. Therefore, we are actively engaged with raising an awareness for the concerns of unaccompanied minors among political parties. Thus effective changes can be achieved within the legal situation.