A two-day conference called "On the Move and Alone", which started in Zagreb on Thursday, brought together approximately 70 experts from nine countries to discuss how to respond effectively to the needs of unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Southeast Europe and exchange experience gained with such children during the migrant crisis.
Unlike in Western European countries where the number of children travelling alone is much higher (Germany for example provides for 70,000 such children), in Croatia there are currently 19 unaccompanied children waiting to be reunited with their families in other European countries.
The system of protecting unaccompanied children in Croatia has been established by the protocol on the treatment of children separated from their foreign national parents and by the mechanism of special guardians.
Assistant Social Welfare and Youth Minister Diana Topcic Rosenberg warned there was room for stepping up the protocol which she said would be revised. Under the existing protocol, unaccompanied children aged 14 and younger are admitted to facilities for housing unaccompanied children and those older than 14 are sent to asylum centres in Kutina and Zagreb.
The conference was organised together by the Republic of Croatia and UNICEF.
According to Eurostat, more than 88,300 unaccompanied children refugees sought asylum in the European Union in 2015 alone.