SecuCities Romanian Children, 2003-2004

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Profiles and the journeys of young homeless Romanians in Europe

For some years, many young homeless people coming from a whole range of countries have found themselves wandering the streets of European cities. The majority of these minors are in precarious situations and need help and support from institutions and associations. What follows is a typology of homeless foreign minors in France, as proposed by Angelina Etiemble (see the complete intervention document (in French):

  • “exiles”. They come from regions ravaged by conflict. Their parents have often been killed. Some of them will come via refugee camps, others collected by religious groups of humanitarian organisations
  • the “exploited”. Those in the hands of human traffickers. Children are smuggled for prostitution, as a way to transport drugs or as accessories to crime
  • “runaways”. Those who have run away from home due to family arguments or mistreatment
  • The “homeless”. They are already homeless in their home country and decide to try their luck in a richer country
  • “Economic migrants”. They leave their country in order to escape poverty, and go abroad to work and send money to their family. In some cases, children are sent to study or learn a profession, with the parents spending all of their money on their child’s trip.

Other countries stick to the notion of unaccompanied minors as referred to by the Council of Europe’s Resolution of 26 June 1997: “citizens of developing countries aged under eighteen who enter member states without being accompanied by an adult who is responsible for them, legally or practically, and who effectively have no one to care for them.”

SecuCities Romanian Children: the first step to creating a network
The ultimate aim is to create continuity throughout the EU while at the same time organising a network of cities to observe the movement of these young people, through developing links with the towns and regions from where they come in order to prepare for returning the children there and in order to put into practice the best preventive measures.
In order to achieve this, the project looks into ways of coming into close contact with the young homeless people within the work methods and through those in contact with the minors (social workers, NGOs, youth courts, the police).
This contact in the long term will allow the formation of a European Child Protection Status.
It will also allow Romanian professionals to be supported as they make contact with the young homeless people. If there are no people to formally direct exchanges of information, such transfers can still take place between people involved on the local level.
Two work seminars, gathering together cities, youth court magistrates, Romanian, French and Italian social workers, as well as NGO specialists, have been organised in order to promote this contact. (See the programmes of the Paris seminar, September 2003 and of the Bucharest seminar, January 2004).
These have allowed analysis of the phenomenon to be shared, for work and intervention methods to be exchanged, and for a reflection on the introduction of a common policy to be initiated.
The following questions have been raised:
Collecting and sharing information
How are homeless young people found?
How is information transmitted?
What is the legislation regarding homeless young people in the three countries, and what are the similarities and differences?
What coherence is there between the legislation and its implementation?
Taking care of the minors (psychological and economic support)
Is there a collaboration between the justice and political institutions and the associations?
Best practices and new tools
The partnership’s methodology
Recommendations to strengthen the link between the cities, the associations and the authorities.
How can they work together?
Hereinafter the presentations of the project’s partners and how they intervene:
City of Paris (France)
City of Marseille (France)
City of Bologna (Italy): Legal aspects , Initial response measures , Child Protection (in Italian)
Association Française Magistrats Jeunesse (France)
Tribunal pour enfants de Paris (France)

Association Jean Valjean (Romania) National Authority for Child Protection and Adoption (Romania)

See also how the Département de Seine St Denis (France) intervened and the observations of Angelina Etiemble, a researcher who participated. (Both in French)
This project, supported by the European Commission (STOP programme) took place between June 2003 and April 2004.