One happy family reunification story that took place in Switzerland, as shared by InfoMigrants, is a good example of cooperation between organizations working across borders to ensure the protection of separated and unaccompanied minors. A mother of two from Eritrea left her children with their grandparents to embark on a journey to Switzerland, where she hoped to start a new life and reunite with her children. She anticipated that this might take her twelve months, but it lasted eight years. In the meantime, her children endured a traumatic journey; they were abducted, kidnaped and detained by bandits, and their smuggler was killed in front of them. They were saved and reunited with their mother thanks to the effective cooperation between various organizations working with refugees and migrants.
Emilia Richard, a legal advisor with International Social Services (ISS) Switzerland, who is involved in this case explained: ‘the success of this story is [in large part] due to the great inter-organizations collaboration that we had. With this case, I worked closely with the ICRC, the OHCHR, the UNSMIL, the UNHCR, the IOM and the Swiss Red Cross. On the national level, I worked with the Swiss migration services, the Swiss federal authorities, the cantonal social services and the medical facilities of the residency canton of the mother.’
This family has united, but what the children have gone through has left lasting marks which will take years to deal with.
The rules and criteria for family reunification are becoming stricter; ‘the criteria to apply for family reunification are having a stable job or financial independence, a suitable and secure home and at least three years of residence in the country’. Many parents cannot meet these criteria and are forced to remain separated from their children. As a result there are more separated and unaccompanied children, who are vulnerable and exposed to abuse and exploitation.
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