Unaccompanied migrant children in Greece: New relocation scheme

15-05-2020

In response to increased migratory pressure in Greece along the EU's external border with Turkey in recent months, and following the Greek government's request for support under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Commission has launched a new relocation scheme to speed up the relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to other EU Member States. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who has been entrusted with taking this process forward, will also work in coordination with the Greek government and stakeholders to find sustainable ways to ensure that unaccompanied minors staying in the first-line reception and identification centres ('hotspots') on the Greek islands receive the care and protection they are entitled to. Regardless of a child's reasons for migrating, their situation or status, they all are first and foremost children and have rights as such. Unaccompanied children or children who have been separated from their parents along the way, are, moreover, entitled to special protection under international human rights and European Union asylum law. All too often, however, their rights and needs are neglected. Human rights organisations have repeatedly denounced the precarious and difficult conditions in which unaccompanied minors are living in the Greek hotspots. The proposed relocation initiative is urgently needed. However, the ongoing political and academic debate also shows a clear need for more structural solutions, in the form of more solidarity and responsibility-sharing among EU Member States, and a coordinated, child rights-based approach to addressing the many protection gaps unaccompanied children face when arriving in Europe.

In response to increased migratory pressure in Greece along the EU's external border with Turkey in recent months, and following the Greek government's request for support under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Commission has launched a new relocation scheme to speed up the relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to other EU Member States. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who has been entrusted with taking this process forward, will also work in coordination with the Greek government and stakeholders to find sustainable ways to ensure that unaccompanied minors staying in the first-line reception and identification centres ('hotspots') on the Greek islands receive the care and protection they are entitled to. Regardless of a child's reasons for migrating, their situation or status, they all are first and foremost children and have rights as such. Unaccompanied children or children who have been separated from their parents along the way, are, moreover, entitled to special protection under international human rights and European Union asylum law. All too often, however, their rights and needs are neglected. Human rights organisations have repeatedly denounced the precarious and difficult conditions in which unaccompanied minors are living in the Greek hotspots. The proposed relocation initiative is urgently needed. However, the ongoing political and academic debate also shows a clear need for more structural solutions, in the form of more solidarity and responsibility-sharing among EU Member States, and a coordinated, child rights-based approach to addressing the many protection gaps unaccompanied children face when arriving in Europe.