Media reported this week that the German Federal migration office is considering plans to establish homes to return unaccompanied refugee children from Morocco who have committed a crime or who want to return voluntarily.

According to leaked policy documents attained by the daily tageszeitung, two homes are planned with a total of 100 spaces costing 960.000€ yearly. The aim is to start the project already this year, with an initial pilot phase until 2020. Besides housing children the centres are also planned to provide pedagogical care, access to education and professional training. The homes will house local orphans as well as deported unaccompanied migrant children. The plan to establish centres in Morocco has been confirmed in an answer to the German Green MP Luise Amtsberg  by the German government in March stating it was implemented under the objective to “lower migratory pressure” from the country. In a follow up question last month the government said that the project was in an early phase and answers on its details could not be provided.

MP Luise Amstberg warns about the fundamental contradiction of the projects idea: at the same time addressing the root causes of deportation and facilitate returns. She argues that policies combining these opposing aims can neither be successful in addressing root causes nor in offering a perspective.  Stephan Dünnwald, of the Bavarian Refugee Council raised concern over the legality of the plan: “At the moment, minors can only be deported if they’re put into the care of a legal guardian – that is, if the parents are standing at the airport to pick them up. If they’re going to build homes there, it’s legally and morally a very questionable business.”

According to Eurostat data published this week, there are 63.300 unaccompanied minors among the asylum seekers registered in the EU in 2016, most are from Afghanistan (38%) or Syria (19%). Last year the highest number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children was registered in Germany (57%).

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 Photo: (cc) 2005 Fabian Felix