Author: Stamatis Melissourgos, Arjen Leerkes, Mark Klaassen
Date: August 2023
Description: We analyse the family reunification troubles of a largely overlooked category of unaccompanied minors in Europe. The unaccompanied “followers” migrate in the footsteps of primary or secondary kin, or get separated from accompanying kin during their irregular journey, and then, typically after arriving in the European Union, seek family reunification with family members living in another EU Member State. Using extensive desk research, legal analysis, and semi-structured interviews, we document a considerable ‘family reunification gap’: followers arriving in Greece often see the realisation of their reunification aspirations prevented, or much delayed, because they lack clear family reunification rights or have difficulty accessing their rights, while the – tempting – path to continued irregular family reunification is similarly full of obstacles. We also show how the interplay of legislation, implementation practices, and opportunities for irregular reunification results in family reunification hierarchy, in which the best interests of the child are unequally fulfilled.