Portugal to receive minors from Greece
At the end of a videoconference of EU internal affairs ministers, Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in a press conference that one of the issues on the agenda was the process of relocation of migrants who are in reception camps in Greece, and said that Portugal would be the third voluntary country to receive unaccompanied minors.
The commissioner did not specify the number of refugees or the date of their arrival in Portugal.
“So far we have managed to relocate unaccompanied minors to Luxembourg and Germany, and Portugal will soon be next,” she said.
Pointing out that a dozen member states have already made themselves available to receive at least 1,600 unaccompanied children and adolescents from reception camps on the Greek islands, Ylva Johansson said this is a very good and strong message of European solidarity.
Faced with migratory pressure and overcrowding in the various reception camps on Greek territory, the Greek government asked the European partners to receive 1,600 of the approximately 5,200 unaccompanied minor refugees currently living in that country.
A dozen member states responded positively to the appeal, namely Portugal, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Germany and Luxembourg.
On 15 April, Luxembourg welcomed the first unaccompanied minors – 12 young Afghans and Syrians aged between 11 and 15 – followed by Germany, which on 18 April received a group of 47 unaccompanied minors from refugee camps located on Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
According to Germany’s minister of the interior, the youngsters were tested for covid-19s still in Greece and will remain in quarantine in Hanover for two weeks, after which they will be transferred to other areas of Germany.
Most of the children are from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea, and were refugees in overcrowded camps on Greek islands near Turkey, namely Lesbos, Samos and Chios, and many of them will be taken in by relatives in Germany.
“The Greek government has been trying to raise awareness in other countries of the European Union about the situation of young children, who have fled from war and persecution, to find new families and start a new life. I am glad that this programme is finally being implemented,” said Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotsakis, said on that occasion in Athens.
According to data published on Tuesday by Eurostat, almost 14,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in the EU in 2019, a reduction of 2,000 compared to the previous year, one in three of them being of Afghan nationality, according to a Eurostat estimate.
The European statistics office estimates that 13 795 unaccompanied minors arrived in the EU in 2019, 6.9% of all asylum applications, down from 16 785 the year before.
Of this total, 85.2% are boys and 11.0% were under 14 years old on arrival in the EU, with one in three coming from Afghanistan (4,205), followed by Syria (1,370, 10%) and Pakistan (1,355, 10%).
Portugal received 45 asylum applications from unaccompanied minors (five more than the previous year and 0.3% of the EU total), with Guinea-Bissau (10 minors), Guinea-Conakry (another 10) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (five) being the main nationalities of origin.
Almost one in four unaccompanied minors were registered in Greece (3,330, 24.1%), followed by Germany (2,690, 19.5%), Belgium (1,220 8.8%) and the Netherlands (1,045, 7.6%).