‘Blind Spots’: Unaccompanied and Separated Girls in Europe (UNICEF and Child Hub webinar)

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Date of webinar: 
10 Sep 2019
Start and finish time of webinar: 
2pm CEST
Sara Ristic
Maria Margherita Maglietti
Francesca Rivelli

Sara Ristic is a GBV Program Manager and Protection Officer at a Serbian civil society organisation Info Park, which in partnership with UNICEF, provides GBV prevention and response services to women and girls on the move. Info Park runs a safe space for women and girls in the urban area of Belgrade, where refugees gather, and it’s field teams provide outreach services. She has been working with refugees and migrants on the Balkan route since 2015. She holds a BA and MA in Psychology, with focus on war trauma.

Maria Margherita Maglietti works as UNICEF’s GBV in Emergency Specialist in Italy, and coordinates the regional program Action Against Gender-Based Violence Affecting Refugee and Migrant Women and Children in Greece, Italy, Serbia and Bulgaria. Margherita has over 10 years of experience working with displaced women and girls, in Europe and the Middle-East, with a specific  focus on GBV in emergencies. She holds BA and MA with a focus on Human Rights.

Francesca Rivelli works as UNICEF’s GBV and CP Specialist in Serbia, also supporting the integration of child protection and GBV in the overall migrant and refugee response. Francesca has been working in the protection field since 2005 in several humanitarian and development contexts, in Somalia, Chad and Central African Republic, Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and most recently in Europe. In the past years she focused more on GBV and child protection in humanitarian action and on supporting inter-agency coordination.

UNICEF and Child Protection Hub

This webinar is being organized as part of the regional project "Building Relationships through Innovative Development of Gender-Based Violence Awareness in Europe - BRIDGE" which has the aim to strengthen the statutory response to gender-based violence (GBV) affecting children and youth on the move in EU countries.

The BRIDGE project is supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020) and is implemented in Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Romania.A series of webinars are being organized as part of the BRIDGE project to discuss issues of GBV and share good practices. 

About the webinar:

The purpose of the webinar is to shed light on the specific experiences and issues of unaccompanied and separated girls in the migrant and refugee Response in Europe. UNICEF GBV prevention and response programmes combine a two-pronged approach focused on life-saving humanitarian service delivery and capacity building, policy reform and technical assistance. UNICEF’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been focusing on this issues through the programme on “Action Against Gender-Based Violence Affecting Refugee and Migrant Women and Children in Greece, Italy, Serbia and Bulgaria”, funded by the United States Government.

Since 2015, Europe has experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict, violence, insecurity and a lack of opportunities in the Middle East, South Asia, East and West Africa. Although arrivals in 2018 were lower compared to the numbers in 2015-2017, the journeys were as dangerous as ever. [i]  In 2018, some 141,500 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe through the Mediterranean migration routes.[ii] On average one in every four was a child. Between January and December 2018., 30,085 children arrived in Greece, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria, of whom 12,717 (42%) were unaccompanied and separated children (UASC).[iii] The number of unaccompanied or separated girls is difficult to quantify as data is incomplete. There are substantial gaps in available information on the numbers, patterns, risks and experiences of these girls and more girls may be arriving on their own but are not being identified as unaccompanied. 

Unaccompanied and separated girls tend to be more ‘invisible’ than boys due to specific dynamics around their travel. Unaccompanied boys tend to travel alone or in groups and self-identify during registration. Girls may not be immediately visible or identifiable as unaccompanied. Adolescent girls, especially those that are unaccompanied or separated, may face increased risks of GBV including sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and trafficking before, during and after migration due to their reduced protection and support networks. Some may be fleeing violence, including early marriage, in their home country or have experienced violence or abuse on their route and are at risk of exploitation and trafficking. 

By the end of the webinar participants will increase their understanding of the protection issues and risks faced by unaccompanied and separated girls while on the move as well as be familiar with some initial tools that can facilitate their daily practice in identifying girls and their needs.

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The content of this webinar represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.


[1] UNHCR (2018) Desperate Journeys January – December 2018. Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe borders https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/67712

[1] UNHCR (2018) Situation Update: Unaccompanied Children (UAC) in Greece 30 September 2018  https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/66558

[1] https://www.unicef.org/eca/emergencies/latest-statistics-and-graphics-refugee-and-migrant-children 


Other literature for review

Data Portal on Children on the Move https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-migration-and-displacement/migration/

Latest Quarterly Update on the situation analysis for the migrant and refugee response in Europe https://www.unicef.org/eca/situation-reports-and-advocacy-briefs-refugee-and-migrant-children

The UNICEF Girls Safety and Resilience Pocket Guide https://www.unicef.org/bulgaria/en/reports/my-safety-and-resilience-girls-pocket-guide

 The report on the Impact of migration on women and girls/Special Rapporteur https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/G1910791.pdf

Series this is part of: 

This project is funded by:


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