The term UMA stands for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. That means refugees or immigrants who are under the age of 18 and are not under the care of a parent or a legal guardian. The reason for their escape includes fleeing violence, unrest, seeking work or because they were victims of human trafficking.
Over the past five years the numbers of the UMA in Switzerland has increased more than tenfolded. In the year 2010 there were 235 minors without a guradian who claimed asylum. In the last year there already were 2736. The numbers between 2013 and 2014 increased most rapidly. Within a year 2’000 more asylum applications than in the previous year went in.
In 2015 almost 7% of all the asylum seekers in Switzerland were minors without a caregiver. Most of them come from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia.
Often those kids are traumatised. They are still quite young, so the asylum procedure overstrains a lot of them. An extra portion of caution and patience is necessary. In any condition the child’s well-being has first priority. It is important that the children and adolescents get enough support and protection, so that they can unfold their personality.
Unaccompanied Minors in Aarau
A year ago an accommodation for unaccompanied minors has opened in Aarau, so that the minors did not have to stay at the same place like the adults do. They tried to satisfy the particular needs for the children. The UMA should not have to live wihtout care, support and a daily structure. Still, the idea was that they started to integrate themselves and to build up a daily routine.
In Aarau, the ones younger than 16 years attend an enrolment class, so that they can attend a regular school afterwards. The ones older than 16 complete an internship or an employment program.
During the past year almost 80 UMA were allocated to the canton Aargau. A few of those young asylum seekers also live in a foster family or with relatives.
We hope that we can get an opportunity to visit those young people, to talk to them and to support them in our own way.