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Migration and Home Affairs
News article17 December 2020

2000 vulnerable asylum seekers and recognised refugees relocated this year from Greece

Today, a milestone was reached in the voluntary relocation scheme from Greece as, despite the current pandemic, more than 2000 vulnerable asylum seekers and recognised refugees have been relocated this year as a tangible expression of European solidarity. The voluntary relocation scheme first focused on unaccompanied children, but was later broadened to include also other vulnerable asylum seekers, including children with medical conditions and families, as well as beneficiaries of international protection. The best interest of the child is the guiding principle to determine relocation as the most appropriate solution for the child and is an essential element in the scheme. A Best Interest Assessment is carefully conducted to assess the specific needs of the child. All children and families receive support and care prior to and during the transfer, including accommodation and care in temporary facilities, comprehensive pre-departure medical support, as well as targeted pre-departure information and orientation sessions in order to better prepare for their arrival in the country of relocation.

The EU-funded scheme is organised by the Greek Special Secretary for Unaccompanied Minors and the Greek Asylum Service in partnership with UN agencies (IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF), the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office. A total of 2 050 persons have been relocated until today, including 553 unaccompanied migrant children, as well as children with medical conditions with family members, vulnerable asylum seekers and recognised refugees.

Sixteen States are part of the initiative: Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovenia and Switzerland.

There has also been significant progress in the Greek legislation on unaccompanied migrant children. On 9 December, the Greek Parliament abolished the possibility of keeping unaccompanied migrant children in protective custody, as part of an overall reform by the Greek authorities to improve living conditions of unaccompanied migrant children in Greece. The elimination of the practice was made possible thanks to the Commission support to the voluntary relocation scheme from Greece and its funding for shelters of unaccompanied children. The Commission warmly welcomes this development as it has consistently called for the practice’s abolition, which has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights on several occasions.

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Publication date
17 December 2020