An "unaccompanied child" is a child separated from both parents and other relatives who is not being cared for by any other adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so. Unaccompanied or separated children (UASC) are potentially more vulnerable to migration risks, due to their young age and unaccompanied status.
Due to differences in definitions and national procedures, collecting accurate data on UASC is very challenging. They may lose their identity documents and have their age questioned or they may hide their underage status to stay out of child protection, as often this would mean interrupting their migration journey and their objectives, for example to work and send money to their families. Data on subgroups such as girls, minors who have disabilities or those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are even more scarce.
The global population of UASC is increasing and not enough is known about this diverse group of young people because of the lack of data. However, a global study led by the Institute for Global Health at University College London (UCL) and published by the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health helps close some of the data gaps related to UASC’s specific health challenges across migration corridors.