During conflicts and crises, children often face multiple stressors that can have significant impacts on their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. Because unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) have lost the care and protection of their primary caregivers, they face a heightened risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence (Maestral International, 2011).
As a result, programming for UASC cases is often prioritized in the context of humanitarian interventions (Maestral International, 2011; Hepburn et al., 2004). This review aims to answer one main question and 3 sub-questions:
What is the impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), during the period of separation, in humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries?
How effective are child protection activities specific to UASC (e.g. family tracing and reunification (FTR) and interim care) at restoring a protective environment?
How effective are interventions aimed at preventing and responding to abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect at ensuring the safety of UASC?
How effective are MHPSS interventions in promoting the mental health and psychosocial well-being of UASC?
This systematic review was carried out by a team from Save the Children UK, Save the Children Sweden and McMaster University. It focuses on protection interventions for UASC in humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries or in proximate countries of asylum since 1983. It considers the impact of such interventions undertaken during the period that these children are separated from parents or other caregivers and not during reintegration or long-term alternative care.
It is accompanied by an Evidence Brief: the impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children (Oxfam GB, 2017, 7p) This brief summarizes key findings, indicates the country contexts from which evidence is drawn, outlines the methodology, highlights research gaps and provides references to the original literature.
This research was funded by UK Department for International Development through the Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme. It forms part of a series of humanitarian evidence syntheses and systematic reviews
Williamson, K., Gupta, P., Gillespie, L.A., Shannon, H. and Landis, D. (2017). The impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children: A systematic review. Humanitarian Evidence Programme. Oxford: Oxfam GB, 124p