Child-Friendly Space at the Spanish border of Beni Enzar in Melilla
Submitted by: Sara Gutierrez, Head of Domestic Migration Programs
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
2016 - Ongoing
The initiative is part of the Save the Children International Strategic Framework “European Refugee and Migrant Crisis Response” (May 2016 - April 2017). It contributes to the organization’s vision to achieve refugee and migrant children’s right to survival, protection, development and participation.
The Child and Youth Friendly Space (C&YFS) at the Spanish international protection office at the border of Beni Enzar in Melilla, Spain, aims to ensure the protection and psychosocial wellbeing of migrant and refugee children arriving through Morocco to the land border with Spain. The specific methodology and activities were developed with children inside the space. They attempted to identify the special situations of vulnerability and protection needs of children during their stay, while their parents or guardians are asking for international protection at the land border.
The border crossing of Beni-Enzar (Melilla) is one of the busiest borders in the world and sees the majority of entries for families and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Spain. The majority of families with children are from Syria. It has been the only entry point in Melilla with an Asylum and Refuge Office since 2014.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Friendly Spaces are key program interventions to protect children from physical harm and psychosocial distress, and help them continue their learning and development during, and immediately after, emergencies or critical moments for their protection. They are supervised environments in which parents and caregivers can leave their children while they take care of administrative or asylum procedures with the different public administrations.
A Friendly Space can help reduce children’s anxiety caused by crisis situations by providing them with a protected environment in which they can participate in organized activities, while beginning to rebuild their lives. C&YFS activities are designed to take advantage of the natural and evolving adaptation capacities of children and proactively involve them in the selection of activities to ensure that they are most suitable and relevant to them.
The broad range of available activities can be classified in five types of games: (i) creative, (ii) imaginative, (iii) physical, (iv) language development and (v) manipulative.
Typically, CFS activities include games, sports, expressive/creative activities, life skills, educational activities, and other activities that promote child development/psychosocial well-being and coping skills.
Challenges and how they were overcome
This good practice is challenged by the short time available to interact with children, which depends on the duration of the procedures parents and caregivers are enrolled in. This context makes it necessary to adapt every activity to the needs of the child, and to adjust it to the time available.
Additionally, the unpredictable nature of migration flows makes the programming of personnel and resources difficult, so the C&YFS is required to be quite flexible.
Results of the Good Practice
Expected results include:
- Newly arrived or minors in transit, and their families, receive psychosocial care and support by specialized personnel.
- Cases of special vulnerability are detected and referred for attention by specialized services or organizations.
- The capacities of public institutions and other organizations regarding specialized and child-centered care are reinforced
This enhances refugee self-reliance and allows children to have access to educational activities.