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Refugee Children final

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shari sebastian

on 13 March 2014

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Transcript of Refugee Children final

Refugee Children
Yvonne, Elizabeth, and Shari
Heaven Crawley
Professor of International Migration at Swansea University and Director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR)

Researcher and writer

Department of Geography

Has more than 20 years of experience undertaking research on international migration in many institutional settings

Experience working with migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers

Written and published a wide range of asylum and immigration issues

What comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘asylum’?

Being Done
Heaven spent 3 days at the Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon (London) observing the ways in which separated children are dealt with when applying for asylum or participating in an asylum interview

QUESTION: Do you think 3 days is enough for the author to collect data for this article?

Peter Hopkins
Newcastle University
Professor of Social Geography in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology
Interests: inequality and justice.

1. Unaccompanied
asylum-seeking children or
'separated children'

(service providers and

1. present
2.immediate past
3. pre-flight experience

SCENARIO: You are a refugee child that used to live in Afghanistan but you had to leave your country because of sexual violence. You are now being interviewed by a guy named Peter about your experiences. You think to yourself, is he just another immigration officer? Is he a researcher?
What would you do?
It is time for your final conference for your paper. Many people will be there to ask questions about your research. You want to bring some participants you have used in your study along with you. Is it ethical to do so?
Some of the social workers of the children believe it is not a good idea to bring some participants
You do not see anything wrong with bringing some participants, after all the research is about them
Peter's experience
Did not bring participants to the study

Felt uncomfortable

Found out this was a good decision based on what he experienced at the conference

Final leaflet for children and full report

‘No one gives you a chance to say what you are thinking’: finding space for children’s agency in the UK asylum system

Protection and immunity granted by the government to a refugee from another country

Asylum seeker:
A person who has left their home country and applied for asylum in another country but whose application has not been approved yet

Written in 2010

Based on the research undertaken during the first 6 months of 2006 exploring the experiences of separated asylum-seeking children in the UK

Focuses on the experiences of separated children in the interview

Explores how children’s political identities and experiences have been conceptualized in procedures for determining who is and is not in need of protection under international refugee law

Interviewed 27 children about their experiences of the
asylum interview after it had taken place

Asylum Interview process
Children were asked to describe their experiences to the decision-makers and they decide whether or not they are afraid of their home country
Interviewed at a very young age
Narrow/directive questions rather than broad and open-ended questions
Lack of care and empathy
In order for children to be accepted for asylum, they would give accounts of their experiences that have to be consistent
Consistency = credibility of account
Inconsistency = false or exaggerated accounts

Previously, children were denied from the interview process and asked to complete a written statement with the assistant of a legal representative

Challenges: illiteracy, language barriers

In 2002, children over the age of 12 can be interviewed

UK asylum system is strictly controlled and complex

Difficult process and many claims are rejected

Angelina’s response after the interview
“No one told me what was happening. I had nothing to eat or drink, not even water. I went to the toilet, that’s where I got water to drink because at the time you don’t have money. It was difficult because I am pregnant. They should put like water to drink or something…it was really bad. Its how they treat you and deal with the other people and ignore you like you are not there.”

~Angelina, age 16, Uganda

Ethical Dilemmas

think the asylum
interview process was
ethical or not?

What are some ethical

Ethical Dilemmas

Children are acted upon; they do not act –assumed to have no agency
Immigration officers described children as ‘rolling in’, ‘turning on the waterworks’
and ‘pretending to be stupid’
Children faced hostility
No food or drink was provided
Told to sit in the waiting area for hours without explanation
Children felt upset and confused
Not in the Best Interest of the Child
Best Interest of the Home Office

Asylum-seeking children receive some form of protection but long-term permanent legal status is less common
Refugee children are exposed to high levels of violence, disruption, losses, and isolation
Higher risk of mental health problems: depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety
Affect memory recall
Children felt upset and confused during the interview and the interviewers failed to respond appropriately

Against the UNCRC

Article 22:
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention […]

Ethical Solutions?
Ethical Methods
Child-focused, child-friendly, recognize child agency
Interviewer should make the child feel comfortable and explain the interview process and allow children to say if he or she doesn’t understand something
Asking open-ended questions during the interview
Children should express themselves and at their own speed
Hearing but also listening
Being open to what they have to say why does these experiences matter and what they mean
Consider the difficulties in why children have trouble expressing a consistent account of their experiences
mental health problems  affect memory recall

QUESTION: As researchers, what would you have done to make the interview process more ethical?


Role-play the interview process in small groups


2000-Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Somalia
2001- 188 children have arrived in Scotland
2001 - 2003 = 12,400
2001-2003- Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Montenegro
Two-thirds were male
Over 60% aged 16-17
Reasons for seeking asylum
Death or persecution of family members
Persecution of youths themselves
Forced recruitment
Rape and sexual violence
Funded by Scottish Refugee Council

Needs/experiences of these children in Scotland

Range of service available
Strengths/ weaknesses of services
Explore social, emotional, legal, and educational needs/experiences

1. Why they left
2. Migration process
3. Current situation
4. Strengths of children

Concerns of research project
Ethical Considerations
Privacy and Confidentiality in the research
Issues related to dissemination of research findings
1. Concerns

A. Interviews/ participatory exercise

B. Who to speak to

C. Overall design/ research material

2. Consent

"in loco parentis"

"responsible adult"

"leaflets that were clear
and simple to read"

30-40 minutes

"Please feel free to drop out at any time"

"we can join the other people in the next room"

Emotional geographies
3. Privacy and Confidentiality
"How to access university"

"access to documentation"

1. "One young person mentioned.."
2. Left out children's age, country of origin, other countries
3. Ensure confidentiality: Asked service providers
4. Interpreters of children
4. Dissemination of research
"Ethical Issues in Research with Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking


Children's Geographies
Full transcript