International migration of unaccompanied minors: trends, health risks, and legal protection

Author/s: Susanna Corona Maioli, Prof Jacqueline Bhabha, Kolitha Wickramage, Laura C N Wood, Ludivine Erragne, Omar Ortega García, Rochelle Burgess, Vasileia Digidiki, Robert W Aldridge, Delan Devakumar
Publication Type: Scientific Report (Journal)(External)

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Migration Health Research Podcast No. 8 (Migration Health Research Bulletin #21) 
Dr. Susanna Corona Maioli, doctor and Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Global Health, UCL [University College London] talks about international migration and the health of unaccompanied minors.


The global population of unaccompanied minors—children and adolescents younger than 18 years who migrate without their legal guardians—is increasing. However, as data are not systematically collected in any region, if collected at all, little is known about this diverse group of young people. Compared with adult migrants, unaccompanied minors are at greater risk of harm to their health and integrity because they do not have the protection provided by a family, which can affect their short-term and long-term health. This Review summarises evidence regarding the international migration and health of unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors are entitled to protection that should follow their best interests as a primary consideration; however, detention, sometimes under the guise of protection, is a widespread practice. If these minors are provided with appropriate forms of protection, including health and psychosocial care, they can thrive and have good long-term outcomes. Instead, hostile immigration practices persist, which are not in the best interests of the child.

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The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health