By Suzana Mallard
Throughout many displacements and my work in the area of mental health with migrants, I began to recognize a pattern in the groups of those who are foreigners or who are part of a diaspora group. When I was in college, I was a Cape Verdean student in Curitiba, and I wondered about the group of friends I had formed, about what brought us together. I realized that there were affinities that I did not know how to name and that went beyond a shared language or origin. It was something the experience of “staying a foreigner” could bring about. I use these words as a way of acknowledging that this term cannot be understood solely as a category of being, but rather as something that impacts existence. “Staying a foreigner” represents a contingency. In the group, there were representatives from other countries, other states, and from rural areas within their state. Most came from outside the city.
Academic works that address the issue of groups that organize themselves in diasporas often do so around the issue of identity maintenance, an element of culture that is shared and maintained for this purpose. Working with forced migrants, I recognized that many of the professionals addressing the needs of this group had experienced the condition of “staying a foreigner” themselves. The condition of foreignness concerns those persons who experience some type of psychological suffering. However, foreignness is understood here as an implicit condition of the human constitution that everybody experiences in specific moments. I am referring here to experiences of displacement where a person lacks the cultural context to understand personal observations or the expectations of others.
During my doctoral research, I conducted interviews with twelve therapists addressing the mental health of forced migrants based in major cities in Brazil such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Curitiba and Minneapolis and Atlanta in the United States. All participants were working in different institutions and NGOs and were part of what we can call a cross-border clinic. The border clinic we speak of is the one relevant to forced migrants that is on the border between knowledges, cultures, languages and otherness. It’s a frontier territory that implies a psychic and symbolic displacement in a constant renegotiation between the familiar and the foreigner, between the self and the other. Otherness or alterity is a term meaning the "other of two", used to express something outside of tradition or convention (LEVINAS, 1982).
In this research I sought to find out if the personal experiences of the therapists had any impact on the listening offered to the forced migrant population. Listening in the therapeutic process is a dynamic that refers to the possibility of offering a space in which the subject can recover their own voice to tell their own story. It is worth noting that there are filters that permeate all listening, and therapeutic listening presupposes renouncing one's own cultural assumptions to ask the other about him or herself and offer ethical listening. When the account of the facts of a story takes place according to a conjuncture without going through the sieve of ethics, we distance ourselves from a certain neutrality. The ethics I refer to is that of listening to psychoanalysis, the ethics of the subject's desire. It does not respond to institutional demands or to the morals of a society or system, but it is the very foundation of human existence. For this purpose, I asked these therapists about their reasons for choosing this field of work.
Eleven of the professionals stated that they themselves had experienced or were still experiencing the state of being a foreigner. They reported that this experience had a direct impact on their fields of practice. The experience seemed to have an effect on the decision to work with this population and the way in which they listened to their patients also seemed to be affected by their choice.
We are born in and within our culture. The dynamics of groups are maintained by the feeling of belonging, the belief in the idea of being one and in the possibility of unity. According to STITOU (2007), the question of origin is necessary for the construction of a shared imaginary, which is also, in part, the reason for maintaining the social bond. This imaginary construction takes society as one and as a compact entity that responds to a single leader and concentrates on a single identification and a common ancestor. This belief is not supported by human experience itself, which highlights the impossibility of sharing the same place or history.
The perspective, marks, and memories of an experience, even when lived collectively, are individual and unique. This recognition offers the possibility of building a bond with others that is not built on the idea of communion. The experience of “staying a foreigner” offers the possibility of decentralization as well as to abandon the illusion of the universality of our beliefs. In this disenchantment process, it is discovered that the recognition of differences does not threaten an individual's singularity. This is a necessary process in view of the belief that the survival of a culture requires protecting it from any unknown influence as a justification for protecting against acts of intolerance and xenophobia. In a way, it is saying that letting go of this illusion is a way to get along with the other and also recognize yourself.
The experience of foreignness, even if it varies, brings up within the individual the possibility of recognizing a place. This experience always refers to the subject's life story, their color, their gender, their social place in the country in which they find themselves, and their capacity for resilience. “Staying a foreigner”, brings knowledge of an experience that has been lived, that is unique to each individual and cannot be shared. It is a place where you do not know what the other person expects of you. This experience has the potential to awaken the person from the illusion that belonging makes us one. It means that people who have “stayed a foreigner” share with each other an existential experience. It is from the phenomenon of human mobility that brings together cultures which are initially distant that the concept of Pangea is constituted. This term designating a single, but diverse, continent, is used as an analogy for the symbolic formations that operate in the cross-border therapeutic territory.
Writing about a similar phenomenon in 1969 Victor Turner said: “I prefer the Latin term "communitas” to “community”, to distinguish this modality of social relationship from an "area of common living”. (…) It is rather a matter of giving recognition to an essential and generic human bond, without which there could be no society” (TURNER, 1969, p.360).
What is interesting about liminal phenomena for our present purpose is the blend of lowliness and sacredness, of homogeneity and comradeship that they offer. We are presented, in such rites, with a "moment in and out of time," and in and out of secular social structure, which reveals, however fleetingly, some recognition (in symbol if not always in language) of a generalized social bond that has ceased to be and has simultaneously yet to be fragmented into a multiplicity of structural ties. These are the ties organized in terms either of caste, class, or rank hierarchies or of segmentary oppositions in the beloved stateless societies of political anthropologists. It is as though there are here two major "models" for human interrelatedness, juxtaposed and alternating. The first is of society as a structured, differentiated, and often hierarchical system of politico-legal-economic positions with many types of evaluation, separating people in terms of "more" or "less". The second, which emerges recognizably in the liminal period, is of society as an unstructured or rudimentarily structured and relatively undifferentiated "communitas," or even communion of equal individuals who submit together to the general authority of elders.
This approximation of mental health professionals and migrants may seem forced at first. It is fueled, however, by the commonality of shared experience. Each side brings knowledge about themselves and, at the same time, realizes that it does not know the other or what is expected of them. These conditions offer the possibility of asking and not inferring about the unknown.
When the interviewees speak of an interest, we understand that they are talking about something that affected them in their own experience of strangeness. In the same way, in the diaspora, migrants’ attempts to maintain their culture, language and identity, in short, the experience of ‘foreignness’, suggests the possibility of delimiting a territory. It suggests that it concerns subjects who share the place of an existential experience. If you think of diaspora as the dispersion of peoples, the existential Pangea represents this rapprochement, yet it is now exemplified by a shared existential trait rather than boundaries drawn by man.
I observed that those who have experienced “staying a foreigner” and subsequently returned to their country of origin continue to be affected by this experience of choosing to work with this population. As stated above, a certain type of knowledge about oneself allows you to listen to others. When the therapists I interviewed reported that their proximity to their patients derives from lived experience, I understand that they refer to the profound and transforming experience of having been a foreigner themselves.
However, this experience is not exclusive to those who have moved to foreign lands. For one of the interviewees, it was his relationship with language that linked him to this group. This therapist has a “speech defect” that impacts his hearing, just as someone who speaks a foreign language has an accent that reveals their nonbelonging. This professional recognized his experience with language as a vital element of his interest in working with the migrant population. These professionals reported an experience that seems to reflect knowledge about what it is to inhabit a particular space and recognize a quality of unknowing that impacts radical individuality.
It is a bond with the issue of migration that, for some, comes from lived experience which enables an understanding of this place occupied by the refugee migrant, that of a foreigner. It is an idea of otherness that does not match the national and cultural identity; one could say it is possibly created by the identity productions which are introduced via the notions of existential Pangea.
Throughout the interviews, the theoretical research process, and my own clinical practice, I observed that the professionals had “stayed foreigners”, which allowed them to take the fundamental pedagogical position of listening to the other. It is this idea – that the Lacanian clinic attributes to listening - on which the therapist draws to think about the experience of the other. There is a disposition for ethical listening, which recognizes the relativity of its referential and which is willing to investigate further. It is an ethical code that responds to the subject's desire and not to the institutional demands or to the morals of a society or System.
This willingness to go beyond the frontiers of the known opens up the possibility of encountering the unknown without restricting oneself by outward impressions. It comes with the recognition of the irrefutable responsibility of each subject towards the other, that of renouncing the theoretical framework itself. It also works to create a listening space in which others can show up as who they are to express themselves. In cross-border clinical practice, therapists are called upon to reinvent themselves in the face of the unknown and this intervention needs to include the other to be achieved.
Levinas, Emmanuel. 1982. Éthique et Infini, (dialogues d'Emmanuel Levinas et Philippe Nemo). Paris, Fayard, coll: L'Espace intérieur.
Stitou, Rajaa. 2007. L’étranger et le différent dans l’actualité du lien social. Nantes: Pleins Feux.
Turner, Victor. 1969. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Suzana Duarte Santos Mallard (doctorate in Psychosociology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ/EICOS) is a psychologist and psychoanalyst, and a researcher in migration and diasporic phenomena. She is currently a member of DIASPOTICS/UFRJ, and an Invited Resident Student at the University of Minnesota (Family and Social Science Department), where she is conducting research among therapists who in turn work with forced migrants from 2018/19. Besides her academic activities, she is a full-time therapist who proposes psychoanalysis as a lens for listening to human and cross-cultural circumstances. Her research interests involve mental health, forced migration, decolonization and Afro-feminism praxis, psychoanalysis, and cross-cultural approach. For more on Dr. Mallard's work, including her publications, click here or follow her on Twitter: @Syoscha
By Patrícia Nabuco Martuscelli
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 a pandemic. At the time, few people imagined that within a year more than 131,487,572 people would be infected, and 2,857,702 would die as a direct consequence of this disease (WHO, 2021 – data of April 06, 2021). Since 2020, people’s lives have been affected by the measures adopted to control the pandemic, including the closing of borders, schools, and non-essential services, as well as general lockdowns. Amidst new mutations of the coronavirus and competition for the recently approved vaccines highlighting global inequalities between developed and developing countries, experts and international organizations have reinforced the necessity of not leaving anyone behind, including migrants and refugees (people forcibly displaced of their countries of origin due to persecutions based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group).
However, migrants and refugees tend to be ignored in sanitary emergencies (Ventura, 2015). As non-nationals they are deprived of access to information and services. Besides that, they tend to be blamed as “responsible” for the transmission of illnesses. Experts have reflected on the challenges refugees face in protecting themselves from this disease, especially people living in crowded detention centers and refugee camps with no social assistance and limited access to hygiene measures and healthcare even before the outbreak of this pandemic (e.g., Ponce, 2020; Raju & Ayeb-Karlsson, 2020; Riggirozzi et al., 2020; Sandvik & Garnier, 2020). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2020), 85% of all forcibly displaced people live in developing countries. Besides that, many refugees (especially in Latin America) live in cities and not in refugee camps. Therefore, it is essential to understand how the refugees themselves experienced the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to understand their challenges, lessons, and expectations. Refugees are experts of their own lives. Suppose decision-makers decide not to leave refugees behinds in the COVID-19 responses. If that were the case, it would be necessary to understand their views.
Brazil presents an interesting case for the analysis of the situation of refugees. It has progressive legislation towards asylum (Law 9474/1997) and migration (Law 13.445/2017) with an expanded definition of refugees (including those fleeing a situation of severe and generalized violation of human rights) and the guarantee of rights with no discrimination to refugees and asylum-seekers including the right to work, education, access to the public healthcare system (Sistema Único de Saúde – SUS) and social benefits. Brazil ranked sixth in the world-wide admittance/reception of asylum-seekers in 2019 (UNHCR, 2020). With more than 331,433 deaths, Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, (behind the United States of America) (WHO, 2021). The Brazilian government ranked the worst in terms of its responses to the pandemic (Lowy Institute, 2021). This has repercussions for the refugee population living in the country.
As part of my research, I interviewed 29 refugees of different nationalities (Syria, Venezuela, Mali, Cameroon, Guinea, Guyana, and Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]) living in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (where the governors initially adopted the WHO measures of social distancing and closure of schools and non-essential business) between March 27, 2020, and April 06, 2020. The interviews were conducted by means of Whatsapp audio calls following the ethical Recommendations of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM, 2019). The refugees’ narratives on how they were coping with the pandemic and the recommendations to stay at home present a unique picture of the pandemic’s initial outbreak in Brazil. This blog post presents the refugees’ main reflections on their problems, lessons, and expectations for the future in times of COVID-19. In sum, they highlight a general uncertainty regarding the disease and the future.
Refugees perceived that they were left behind by Brazilian responses (or lack of them) to COVID-19 since the government was not acknowledging or addressing their needs in the pandemic. Most of the information translated/adapted for refugees and migrants on protection measures, how to access healthcare, and the federal emergency benefit was produced by civil society organizations and universities with programs geared to support this population (like the Universidade Federal do Paraná – UFPR). Refugees were at risk of believing in fake news since their primary source of information was social media like Facebook and Whatsapp. Recently arrived asylum-seekers that could not speak Portuguese faced the worst situation. There was much uncertainty if refugees and migrants had access to the emergency benefit package discussed by the government at the time. Some refugees had already received false links promising access to benefits (that were not in place yet at the time of the interviews) to steal people’s data.
Refugees were also afraid of facing discrimination when seeking out healthcare because they believed that if the medical personal were put in a situation to decide who should receive treatment, they would prefer Brazilian citizens over foreigners, that is, the refugees. Another challenge was the closure of essential refugee services such as the Federal Police responsible for naturalization and documentation appointments, the civil society organizations providing migrants and refugees with services and information online, and stores sending remittances to the home countries (like Western Union) and offering international phone calls. Many refugees were worried that they could not send vital remittances to their families abroad. Besides that, the Brazilian borders were closed, creating uncertainty if refugees’ relatives with family reunification visas could enter Brazil. The closure of borders also prevented asylum-seekers from entering Brazil and claiming asylum, especially Venezuelans.
A final challenge that appeared in the interviews was that refugees were “living the pandemic twice.” They were facing the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, and the Brazilian government was not doing a good job about it. However, at the same time, they worried about their loved ones that were facing the pandemic in the countries of origin that were less equipped than Brazil to fight the pandemic. Most refugees in Brazil come from Venezuela (near 65,49%), Syria (11,79%), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (3,79%), countries facing armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies (CONARE, 2020).
In fact, refugees from Venezuela, Syria, and DRC felt that they were better prepared to stay at home and follow the WHO measures as compared with the local population because they had already faced war, other diseases (like the Ebola epidemic), and humanitarian emergencies in their home countries. They believed that these past experiences helped them to better understand and follow health recommendations without panic. This also allowed them to empathize more strongly with other groups affected by the pandemic, like recently arrived people, people living in abandoned buildings called occupations, elderly people, poor people, and homeless people. Many refugees depended for their livelihood on catering businesses, which were severely impacted by the canceling of events, fairs, and parties; they were unemployed or were in fear of losing their jobs due to the economic crisis. At the same time, they took action to assist those who were more vulnerable by sharing food with them, distributing food packages and hygiene kits, and offering information. Refugees were worried about the Brazilian population’s well-being and requested that the Brazilian government help everybody (including wealthy Brazilians) and not only refugees. They felt that, as everybody was being affected by the pandemic, everybody needed help.
The interview’s final questions invited the refugees to reflect on the future: the next three months and the future in general. Most refugees’ answers showed that they expected the pandemic to be over soon and that they could resume their previous mode of life after one month. I believe most of my interviewees feel disappointed considering that we are facing this pandemic for more than a year now and our lives are far from “normal.” Nevertheless, the refugees had an optimistic view of the future in general. They expected that humanity would be able to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the same way as we have fought other pandemics that are now part of history books. They also expected that people would learn to take better care of themselves, their houses, and the planet in general. The refugees hoped that the pandemic would help people to improve, be less selfish and appreciate such vital values as health, family, and life. Actually, the refugees generally agreed that life itself was most essential. That is why they argued that the Brazilian government should save people’s lives first and put the economy in the second place.
The refugees in Brazil reflected on their problems, lessons, and expectations during the outbreak of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial to understand their perspectives to adopt responses to this crisis that take their particular needs into account and do not leave them behind. This essay briefly presented the main findings of the research entitled “Refugees and COVID-19” developed at the Núcleo de Pesquisas em Relações Internacionais (NUPRI) at the University of São Paulo (USP). More studies should consider refugees as experts for the impact of the pandemic on their lives, especially because we have been living the COVID-19 pandemic for more than one year now.
CONARE. (2020) Resumo Executivo - Refúgio em Números, 5th edition. Brasília: CONARE. https://www.justica.gov.br/seus-direitos/refugio/anexos/RESUMOEXECUTIVO_REFGIOEMNMEROS.pdf Accessed 07 Apr 2021.
International Association for the Study of Forced Migration. (2019). IASFM Code of Ethics: Critical reflections on research ethics in situations of forced migration. Forced Migration Review 61, 13-14.
Lowy Institute (2021) Covid Performance Index DECONSTRUCTING PANDEMIC RESPONSES. https://interactives.lowyinstitute.org/features/covid-performance/
Ponce, D. (2020). The impact of coronavirus in Brazil: politics and the pandemic. Nature Reviews Nephrology, 16, 483. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41581-020-0327-0
Raju, E., & Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). COVID-19: How do you self-isolate in a refugee camp?. International Journal of Public Health, 65: 515–517. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01381-8
Riggirozzi, P., Grugel J., Cintra, N. (2020, June 26). Protecting Migrants or Reversing Migration? COVID-19 and the risks of a protracted crisis in Latin America. Lancet Migration. https://socialprotection.org/sites/default/files/publications_files/188e74_543cbb0400824084abcea99479dfa124.pdf
Sandvik, K. B., Garnier, A. (2020, March 27). How Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Reshape Refugee and Migration Governance? PRIO Blogs. https://blogs.prio.org/2020/03/how-will-the-covid-19-pandemic-reshape-refugee-and-migration-governance
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2020). Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2019. https://www.unhcr.org/5ee200e37.pdf
Ventura, D. (2015). Mobilidade humana e saúde global. Revista USP, (107), 55-64. https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.2316-9036.v0i107p55-64
World Health Organization. (2021). WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. Data last updated: 2021/04/06, 5:42pm CEST. https://covid19.who.int/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6575BRCQARIsAMp-ksMsS4pwW8AXkGEwT7PN0DvyKCrbShCYW3NhkERbqy4LEoB8Xv7CjLcaAuNKEALw_wcB
 For further methodological discussions of this project, see Martuscelli, P. N. (2020). How are refugees affected by Brazilian responses to COVID-19?. Revista de Administração Pública, 54(5), 1446-1457. Epub November 02, 2020.https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-761220200516x
 See https://www.ufpr.br/portalufpr/noticias/projeto-disponibiliza-informacoes-sobre-auxilio-emergencial-em-cinco-idiomas/?fbclid=IwAR0vqVlDXsq89l1fQd0dac6tbnC7X2FSRLUMFhjUWVrdLbR-Xu7Mj_NwgJQ
by Lisa Wolfsegger
The NGO asylkoordination österreich is a networking organization that stands up for the rights of vulnerable groups. Particular emphasis is laid on child refugees. This blog post draws attention to major shortcomings in the provision and implementation of children’s rights for child refugees.
In 2020, 5,522 children applied for asylum in Austria. While 1,467 have entered the country without their parents and are, therefore, unaccompanied, most of them, that is, 4,055, have entered Austria with their parents. All adults and accompanied/unaccompanied minors – have to apply for asylum. This is the only possibility for legal residence in Austria. Other forms of legal entrance are rare. In the asylum process, three points are checked: asylum according the Geneva Refugee Convention (1), subsidiary protection according the European Convention on Human Rights (2) and humanitarian residence permits: §§ 55 and 57 (3).
Discrimination of children
In Austria, there are two groups of children– children and child refugees. There are systematic shortcomings before, during and after the asylum process concerning minors. The state does not provide children that fled to Austria without their parents with a guardian for extended periods (weeks or even months). During this initial process, no one is responsible for them. As a result, about half of the unaccompanied minors disappear altogether. No one keeps track of the missing children. In 2020, 764 children disappeared in this way.
After passing through the initial phase, unaccompanied minors are provided with accommodations with 24/7 care. However, they are disadvantaged compared to Austrian children in the custody of state-provided child-care accommodations, as the state provides fewer resources for their care.
Study on accompanied minors
In 2019, some colleagues and I jointly published a study with UNICEF. It focused on the situation of accompanied minors, particularly on the rights of accompanied child refugees during the asylum process and on the contribution of existing support services serving their best interest. The focus group were children in families during the asylum process in Austria. As our study shows, most protection is provided through the voluntary commitment of supporters or teachers. Despite this considerable voluntary effort and individual engagement, we found clear deficits in the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child for child refugees. In particular, the state authority providing infrastructure and supporting structures, does not take the best interest of the child and the protection of the children’s rights sufficiently into account.
No place for being a child
The asylum procedure is stressful, for children and parents alike. Children have to take the role of adults and therefore involuntarily encounter the world of grownups. There is no space for being a child. Leyla (14 years) described her daily life with “three times a week crying, four times a week being happy”. The eight-year-old Rami wished for a kind fairy to grant a legal residency status (“Aufenthaltsstatus”). While other eight-year-olds desire Lego, Rami dreams of a legal residency status – actually a word that an eight-year-old should not even know.
Asylum seeking children are explicitly excluded from the law that prescribes minors to be educated until the age of 18 (“Ausbildungspflicht”). Their parents are not allowed to work, and the families often live in cramped housing without any private room for children. The parents’ lack of system knowledge prevents them from giving adequate support to their children.
Children often do not know any other place than Austria. Nevertheless, they experience racism and the feeling of being unwanted every day. Although some of them have been born in Austria, this does not entitle them to legal residence. In Austria, children always get the citizenship of their parents, no matter how long they have already lived in the country. This discrimination in the asylum process leads to an enormous physical and psychical burden on them.
As part of guardianship, parents are their children’s legal representatives. When parents cannot afford a lawyer, there is no preparation for, or support at, the interview. Accompanied children often become invisible in this legal context. While the authorities recognise unaccompanied minors as autonomous parties, accompanied minors are seen as “appendix” of their parents. The focus on the violation of children's rights and child-specific grounds for persecution disappears. Families with a positive asylum status can receive minimum benefits (“Mindestsicherung”). If they have subsidiary protection or humanitarian status, it depends on the region whether they get any social welfare at all. If the asylum procedure ends with a negative decision, many families fear deportation. In early 2021, the case of Tina received media attention. The 14-year old Tina was born in Austria and lived here for 12 years. In January 2021, she and her family were deported to Georgia. As we will see below, this case is not an unpleasant exception. Deportations of minors are cruel everyday occurrences in Austria. Even though it would be legally possible, authorities refuse to grant humanitarian status to families. Consequently, Austria deported 67 minors in the pandemic year of 2020. Also detention (“Schubhaft”), the cruel imprisonment without crime does not stop at children. In 2020, 13 children were in detention, eleven of them being unaccompanied minors.
What do we need?
The focus should be on the best interest and the rights of the child. Currently, the best interest of the child hardly matters. According to the law, people receive humanitarian status when the right to a private and family life prevails over the interests of the state. This consideration is in the discretion of the authorities. This humanitarian status is not humanitarian; it simply does not work anymore. In recent years, high legal barriers have been created by the deciding immigration authority, the “Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl” (BFA), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The BFA is over-financed and uses its large personnel of about 1,000 employees to file legal appeals (“Amtsrevisionen”) against positive decisions by the Federal Administrative Court, which is the second instance. As a result, the criteria for admission and the legal reasoning have become so complex that they beat even specialized lawyers. The entire legal apparatus is inscrutable for all parties involved.
What happened before the deportation of 14-year-old Tina?
In the case of Tina, the mother applied for a humanitarian status and, therefore, for a re-examination of the best interest of the child in May 2020, that is, nine months prior to the deportation. Thus, the mother did her best to safeguard the best interest of her child. The authority ignored the application, although it was required to deal with it within six months. This was contrary to law!
The best interest of the child had been examined 1 ½ years before the deportation. A proper procedure would have included a re-examination before deportation. This did not happen. In the long interval since the last examination, the children had become integrated in Austria and their ties to the country of origin had decreased. Therefore, their adaptation to the country of origin had become more difficult. If the authorities take children’s rights seriously, they have to re-examine to decide if the deportation indeed corresponds to the best interest of the child.
We see that the shortcomings in the proceedings for children and asylum are systematic. Children’s rights are consistently ignored; child refugees are not recognized as children Just as in the case of Tina, our study shows the need for a stronger focus on the rights of the child in the asylum process. The current situation is a systematic failure that is politically intended. For many years, asylkoordination österreich has been working to improve conditions in the field of children’s rights for this vulnerable group. Each and every one of the 67 deportations of a minor in 2020 was cruel. Altogether, we need better options for the legalization of undocumented persons in Austria – not only for children.
 Source: parliamentary query response from NEOS (AB 4983/AB) – 15.03.2021
 Source: parliamentary query response from NEOS (AB 4983/AB) – 15.03.2021
 Andrea Fritsche, Katharina Glawischnig, Lisa Wolfsegger: „Dreimal in der Woche weinen, viermal in der Woche glücklich sein“. Zur kinderrechtlichen Situation begleiteter Kinderflüchtlinge und ihrer Familien. UNICEF Österreich / asylkoordination österreich. 260 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-200-0664-1.
 Source: parliamentary query response from NEOS (AB 4983/AB) – 15.03.2021
 Source: parliamentary query response from NEOS (AB 4983/AB) – 15.03.2021