Unaccompanied Minors

Children and youth migrating – whether between or within countries and whether accompanied by their relatives or not – have become a recognized part of today’s global and mixed migration flows. Recent research and policy approaches to unaccompanied migrant children are revealing and addressing the varying experiences of children migrating – both positive and negative.
Independent child migration can be, but is not necessarily, an exploitative or damaging experience for children. It is rather a multidimensional phenomenon, and as such needs consistent and coherent policy responses. As a global agency working on migration, it is of major importance for IOM to strengthen and support coherent approaches to unaccompanied migrant children, taking into account principles of non-discrimination and the best interests of the child.

IOM’s Approach

In line with the increased attention paid to child migration as part of a larger phenomenon of family migration, transnational families and family reunification, the work of IOM has substantially grown in relation to providing assistance to children on the move, particularly those who are unaccompanied.

The IOM Glossary on Migration defines unaccompanied minors as persons under the age of majority who are not accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other adult who by law or custom is responsible for them.

IOM operates within the relevant international legal framework for the protection of migrants, in particular in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The organization is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of unaccompanied migrant children, having their best interests as the top priority in all of its activities.

The organization’s field of operation in relation to unaccompanied migrant children covers different programmatic areas, including: health and resettlement-related activities; reception and integration in the country of destination; return and reintegration in the country of origin or a third country; family assessment and reunification; as well as research and information campaigns.


Initiative for child rights in the Global Compact

Recommended principles to guide actions concerning children on the move and other children affected by migration

Factsheet on refugee and migrant children in Europe

Children cannot wait: 7 priority actions to protect all refugee and migrant children

EMN Study "Policies on Reception, Return, Integration Arrangements for, and Numbers of, Unaccompanied Minors in Austria (2010)"

International Migration Law note on Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Children on the Move publication

Unaccompanied children on the Move


+43 (0) 1 585 33 22 14


► Ongoing projects

► Completed projects