Sleep of refugee children: asylum reform should guarantee closer care

Unaccompanied minor refugees benefit from closer support in federal government centers as part of asylum reform. Will she be fine for you?

Daniel Fox

According to one expert, the federal government is on the right track when dealing with AMU. (Image: Keystone)

According to one expert, the federal government is on the right track when dealing with AMU. (Image: Keystone)

It crumbles on the facade of the "Villa Uma". This is what the authorities call the Basel dormitory, specially designed for unaccompanied minors asylum seekers. They fled without parents to Switzerland and want to be protected here. For them, the state has its own name, Uma.

In the villa, in the residential building of an old Basel estate, the federal government announced Tuesday that it planned to take care of children and adolescents in a more child-friendly way. The house can accommodate 20 refugee children. Girls and boys are separated in two sleeping areas. There is a small kitchen, several lounges with a rocker and a television. A bathroom for girls, one for boys. The villa is the flagship project of the federal government. Here and in Zurich, he tests since 2017 the new concept of accommodation for unaccompanied refugee children as part of a pilot project.

The kids are not here this morning, they are "actively employed" – one of the goals of the new concept. In the girls' six-bedroom room, only one bed is made. At the present time, there is only one girl, says Jessica Maier, responsible for accommodation.

Half empty housing

Currently, there are nine boys in the "Villa Uma" next to a girl. He is therefore half occupied. The new concept, which will apply from next year in all federal asylum centers in Switzerland, provides for close monitoring. And higher requirements for the staff. Thus, social educators and social educators should be mainly there for young residents. What does this mean concretely?

Organizations dealing with asylum seekers on behalf of the Confederation – in Basel the private company ORS – need to hire enough social educators to also provide close support to a growing number of people. If the villa is occupied in Basel, the children will be housed in the same building as the adult asylum seekers. But in separate separate dormitories, as the federal government points out. This is also the case in the Zurich test facility. Unlike Basel, refugee children are not permanently available in permanent lounges.

The protection of children is organized by region

Observed critically Eva Mey. The sociologist and professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences studied the pilot project. Even if she sees the federal government on the right track. Nevertheless, she poses some points of questioning. Their investigation has shown in many ways that many unaccompanied refugee children have problems with the night. "In one survey, caregivers reported that the delivery of sleeping pills or sleeping devices was extremely prevalent," Mey said.

"It's an illustration of a problem that can arise when short-term solutions are used and the child does not succeed individually."

Will refugee children be sedated with sleeping pills? No, says Jessica Maier, director of Villa Uma. Of the ten teenagers, one person is currently taking a sleeping pill. She suffers from nightmares. The competent State Migration Secretariat writes on request. In Zurich, just over one person received a "sleep aid". But this mainly concerns the local clairaudience. The federal agency stresses that these are mainly non-prescription sleep aids, ie teas, globules and other herbal products. Prescription drugs are the absolute exception. Before such services are administered, clarifications are made to psychiatric services for children and adolescents.

Eva Mey also criticizes that the interfaces between the Confederation and the cantons are not sufficiently clarified. For example, if there is a danger message. The problem: the protection of childhood is organized at the regional level. It is now essential, Mey said, that the federal government create a monitoring body that regularly monitors the justice of minors and the elderly.

Yesterday, the Confederation promised to improve until the national introduction of the new concept of care. He also wants to be seen by a control authority behind the facade to take care of unaccompanied refugee children.

The number of UMA decreases

Although the federal government registered about 730 unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in 2017, this number was only slightly less than half that of last year. If they are between 12 and 17 years old, they go through the usual asylum procedure. If you are younger, you will not find yourself in an establishment like the "Villa Uma" in Basel, but in a host family. In addition, an asylum application requires a judgment. That is to say that a 7-year-old child (as young asylum seekers without parents are the absolute exception) can not legally ask for asylum. He finds himself later in the asylum procedure and is initially accommodated and taken care of outside the asylum procedure. With the new asylum procedure, in effect since March, the asylum applications of unaccompanied minors, as well as adults, are being examined in one of six federal asylum centers. The maximum duration is 140 days. The procedure is usually completed after 40 to 50 days, the federal government said. If children and teenagers then stay in Switzerland, the cantons are responsible for their care. (Sic)