The 11th inter-cantonal meeting of the French- and Italian-speaking Swiss regions took place on October 10 in Lausanne. Organized by the International Social Service Switzerland in collaboration with UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, this event enabled professionals to examine the issue of the mental health of unaccompanied children (UACs) and consider specific options for practical action.
How can the mental health of unaccompanied children and ex-unaccompanied children who are applying for asylum (UAC and ex-UAC asylum applicants) be taken into account? What specific instruments are available and how should they be used in professional practice? How can the needs of these young people be identified and how can their right to participate in the asylum procedures be incorporated?
The 11th inter-cantonal meeting of the French- and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland, organized by the International Social Service Switzerland (ISS Switzerland) in collaboration with UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, provided an opportunity to examine these questions and to consider a variety of issues associated with the mental health of unaccompanied children and ex-unaccompanied children who are applying for asylum (UAC and ex-UAC asylum applicants). Valérie Induni, a delegate of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, gave the introduction to this event, which was held in Lausanne on October 10.
The meeting also provided an opportunity to present the new guidelines on the participation and consultation of children and young people in the asylum procedure. These guidelines, published by UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein together with the Marie Meierhofer Institute for the Child (MMI), are aimed at legal representatives, liaison officers, staff of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and other specialists in the field.
In the afternoon, a panel discussion and a selection of workshops enabled participants to examine a range of topics, relating in particular to the care of young people’s mental health and the quality of the relationship between professionals and young people. In this context, a workshop on interviewing methods and the representation of children’s interests was run by Aline Sermet - a lawyer with Caritas Suisse - and Audrey Monbaron of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
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