Unaccompanied Minors

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Unaccompanied children (minors) are defined as; ‘those who are separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, has responsibility to do so’. The number of unaccompanied children varies greatly by reasons of leaving the country and the relevant leaving condition. However, (by a non-scientific generalization) it is estimated that unaccompanied children form 2 to 5 % of the refugee population. (This figure varies in different countries and regions)[1]


According to the executive circular dated June of 2006; unaccompanied children are defined as “unaccompanied minors.” Therefore; unaccompanied minor is “a person with foreign nationality or no nationality, under age of 18, who have entered Turkish territory without the care of an adult who, by law or custom, has the responsibility to do so; applying for asylum/refuge and is defined as unaccompanied minor as long as he is not placed under the care of a person with such responsibility. Asylum and refuge applicants who have become accompanied after their entry to Turkish territory are also considered within this scope.”


Unaccompanied refugee minors are considered within the status of “unprotected children” under the Turkish Social Services and Child Protection Institution Law numbered 2828. These children are directed to Social Services and Child Protection Institution by provincial directorates of security and children between the ages of 0-12 are placed in kindergartens while children between the ages of 13-18 are placed in orphanages.


Refugee children (especially unaccompanied refugee minors) enjoy relatively better protection and support by the development of national legislation to a standard of international practices within Turkey where there are significant deficiencies in refugee law and rights are violated.



  1. For more detailed information: Hopes Beyond Borders, Refugee Children, Author: Önder Beter, SABEV Publishing


Source: Orçun Ulusoy; 2009; Sorularla İnsan Hakları; İnsan Hakları Gündemi Derneği; Turkish


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