More than 1,100 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children in Greece need urgent shelter and protection

Protection – Refugee and Migrant Children: Greece

More than 1,100 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children in Greece need urgent shelter and protection
European Member States urged to increase relocation pledges and fast-track family reunifications
GENEVA, 29 August 2019 – The number of unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children, staying in dangerous and overcrowded Reception and Identification Centres on the Greek islands, and detention facilities across the country, now exceeds 1,100 – the largest number since the beginning of 2016 – UNICEF said today. The agency urged European Member States to do more to protect these particularly vulnerable children…

To further highlight the situation, UNICEF has released a short film documenting the dreams and despair of boys staying in “Section B,” an area meant to provide specialized protection for unaccompanied children in the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesvos. The film depicts children as they recount the horrors that made them flee their homes, the dangerous journeys they undertook, the difficult conditions at the centre, and their fears and hopes surrounding their uncertain futures…

Actions European Governments and EU Institutions should take to protect the rights of refugee and migrant children include:
:: Increasing pledges to relocate unaccompanied and separated children – particularly those in Greece, Italy and Spain.
:: Fast-tracking family reunifications for children who already have relatives living in the rest of Europe.
:: Urgently increase funds to support and strengthen response efforts of European countries receiving the largest number of refugees and migrants.

Once children enter Europe, EU Governments should work together to ensure all refugee and migrant children – accompanied or not – have access to safe and adequate shelter, eliminating detention as an option. Children need immediate access to essential services and at all stages of their journey, while ensuring safe passages and legal pathways. Specialized accommodation, foster care, guardianship and other measures are needed to ensure every unaccompanied or separated child realizes his/her right to grow up in a caring environment.

Currently, there are more than 32,000 refugee and migrant children in Greece, including more than 4,000 who are unaccompanied and separated. Over the last three years, UNICEF has supported more than 60,000 refugee and migrant children and their families in Greece. This work includes ensuring children have access to vital child protection services, including psychosocial support, health care and education. UNICEF is also working with the Ministry of Health, providing 85,000 vaccines to protect refugee and migrant children from diseases.