Belgium addresses urgent need for guardians as unaccompanied minors seek refuge

Brussels, Belgium: In the face of a staggering surge in unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in Belgium, the nation has taken significant steps to ensure the welfare of these vulnerable individuals.

The perilous journeys undertaken by these young souls, often fleeing conflict zones, demand a robust support system.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Ministry of Justice has collaborated with the Centre for General Welfare Work (CAW) to bolster the ranks of guardians who play a crucial role in representing and safeguarding these minors.

Currently, Belgium records a historic high of 660 active guardians responsible for 3,776 guardianships.

This formidable task is shared among volunteers and employees associated with various entities, including social services and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

However, the escalating influx of minors arriving without parental guidance, exacerbated by conflicts like the war in Ukraine and ongoing strife in the Middle East, has strained the existing system.

Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt acknowledges the severity of the situation, stating, “The war in Ukraine has pushed the figures for 2022 to an all-time high. Moreover, the conflict in the Middle East may create a new wave in the coming period.”

With an initial waiting list of 1,840 minors at the beginning of the year, efforts have been made to bolster the number of guardians, resulting in a decrease to 1,200 on the waiting list. Despite this progress, the challenge remains precarious, demanding innovative solutions.

In a significant development, the Guardianship Service of the Ministry of Justice has inked protocol agreements with the Centre for General Welfare Work (CAW). This partnership aims to employ 15 new employee guardians, with ten of them sourced from various Flemish CAWs.

The strategic inclusion of these new guardians, capable of taking on multiple guardianships simultaneously, is anticipated to reduce the waiting list substantially. This positive step means that 300 to 400 unaccompanied minors now stand to benefit from the prospect of a guardian.

Justice Minister Van Tigchelt emphasizes the broader impact of this collaboration, stating, “Moreover, the expertise of the CAWs will make it possible to appoint more specialized guardians for minors with special profiles.”

This includes those facing severe medical or psychological problems, pregnant girls, and minors who may be victims of abuse, violence, and exploitation. The intention is clear – to provide tailored support that addresses the diverse needs of these vulnerable young individuals.

Bart Claes, Director of CAW Groep, sheds light on the multifaceted approach the CAWs are known for, stating, “Our centres in Flanders and Brussels are mainly known for their psychosocial assistance to vulnerable people.

Migration and precarious residence is a complex event that affects the well-being of refugees in various ways.” He adds, “CAW’s ambition is to strengthen refugees’ resilience to live their lives. This new assignment of guardianship for minors who arrive in our country without parents fits into this.”

As Belgium takes proactive measures to bridge the gap in guardianship for unaccompanied minors, the collaboration between the Ministry of Justice and CAW emerges as a beacon of hope.

It addresses the immediate challenges posed by the influx of minors. It reflects a commitment to providing holistic support, recognizing the unique circumstances each individual seeking refuge in Belgium faces.


This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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