Missing in Europe: A Critical Analysis of the European Union's Policies Regarding Unaccompanied Minors
EU policies aim to ensure unaccompanied minors (UAMs) who seek asylum alone receive rights-based treatment and feel protected under state care. However, Europol reported that more than 10,000 UAMs went missing from EU reception centres during the “refugee crisis” in 2015. Research suggests many chose to abscond from the system due to rights-violations. This prompts the research question: why did EU policies that intend to protect unaccompanied minors fail in practice during the crisis? Using the frameworks of historical and discursive institutionalism, and social construction of target populations theory, this thesis explores a case study of the EU’s approach to UAMs and irregular migration will suggest the root cause of these disappearances is structural xenophobia at the EU level. This thesis will examine how structural xenophobic discrimination created at the EU-level translates in different national contexts by comparing state practices towards UAMs in Italy and Sweden.