human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Call to relocate unaccompanied children

Caritas Europa joins other civil society organisations in calling on EU Member States to urgently relocate unaccompanied children from the Greek islands.

Since the entry into force of the EU-Turkey Deal in March 2016, and due to the geographical restriction preventing asylum seekers from leaving the Greek islands, the islands and their reception and identification centers (hotspots) have become overcrowded camps containing thousands of people in inhumane conditions.

The situation is unbearable for migrants and a stain on Europe’s conscience. Overall, there are now more than 38,600 people living in hotspots on the Greek islands, which have capacity for 6,178 people only, and the total number of individuals trapped on the islands is over 42,000. In light of the most recent developments, violence on the island of Lesbos is in particular escalating and increased arrivals of migrants risk further deteriorating the dangerous situation in the camps.

The situation is particularly dramatic for children. Over 1,800 unaccompanied children live in the hotspots. 1,000 of these children are in Moria and the surrounding ‘Olive Grove’, while 400 are in the hotspot of Vathy in Samos. A high number of these children are homeless, sleeping without tents and next to strange adults. Medical actors state that an increasing number of children are experiencing psychological distress, self-harming or attempting suicide in the refugee camp on Lesbos. Children are deprived of access to their most basic rights, such as shelter, water, food, medical and psychosocial care and education.

EU states have the power to alleviate this situation and to respond to the Greek government’s call to relocate 2,500 unaccompanied children. Caritas has always advocated for the protection of vulnerable people and in particular of children, and time after time called for more solidarity among Member States to step up their relocation efforts. Thus, in this call to action, we join our partner NGOs to strongly urge Member States to relocate unaccompanied children as soon as possible. While broader reforms, such as a long-term EU responsibility sharing mechanism, are undoubtedly necessary, the relocation of unaccompanied minors is an urgent necessary measure to provide these children the safety and childhood every child deserves.


joint statement


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