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This is Who We Are: A study of the profile, experiences and reasons for flight of unaccompanied or separated children from Afghanistan seeking asylum in Sweden in 2015

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Amidst the unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in 2015 there was also a high number of unaccompanied and separated children (hereafter UASC). Perceiving no alternatives for reaching safety, these girls and boys found it necessary to flee on their own. The unaccompanied youth were exposed to perils along the way. More than half of the UASC who arrived in Europe were Afghan nationals. Half of these Afghan UASC chose Sweden as their final destination.

This study aims to provide an overview of who these Afghan UASC are, what made them decide to undertake such a long and difficult journey, what happened along the way, and why they ultimately chose Sweden as their destination. The study presents the findings of a profiling exercise that was conducted by UNHCR in collaboration with partners, to collect information on the background of these UASC in order to begin addressing the information gaps concerning this group of displaced children. The information gathered will inform UNHCR’s response programming in the countries along the journey from Afghanistan to Sweden. This exercise also aims to provide a significant step towards building an evidence-base for an informed discourse on possible solutions for these children.

In total 240 individual interviews were carried out between March and May 2016 during the course of the profiling survey conducted in Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm, and an additional 34 Afghan UASC participated in the focus group discussions. Additionally, previous studies on the movement of Afghan UASC were consulted in both the design of this study and in the review of the findings.