Refugee children from Greek island camps arriving in Luxembourg | Photo: AFP/O.Panagiotou
Refugee children from Greek island camps arriving in Luxembourg | Photo: AFP/O.Panagiotou

Portugal is the latest in a list of 10 EU countries to announce that will soon bring 50 unaccompanied migrant children from the Greek islands. According to EU sources, the children will be flown to Portugal in May.

Portugal announced on Tuesday that it is ready to airlift 50 unaccompanied migrant children from the Greek islands. The announcement came after a videoconference between EU interior ministers.

The news agency dpa reports that Portugal will carry out the airlift in May, according to EU sources.

'Efforts continue'

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, who was also present at the conference, has been tweeting about progress in the plan to transfer a total of 1,600 unaccompanied children from the Greek islands to various EU countries, including Luxembourg, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Finland, Croatia, and Belgium.

So far, two small contingents of children have been flown to Luxembourg and Germany.

"Lisbon has indicated it can fulfill its promise soon," Johansson told dpa.

Process slowed because of pandemic

In March, a senior official with the UN children's agency UNICEF, told Reuters that the closure of borders due to coronavirus would inevitably affect the promised transfers of the children.

Afshan Khan, the special coordinator for UNICEF's refugee and migrant response in Europe, urged all EU countries to "explore all possible measures to expedite the transfer of these children so they can begin moving as soon as borders reopen."

Quarantine

Children who have already been transferred to Germany and Luxembourg were put straight into 14-day quarantine accommodation upon their arrival. So far, Portugal has been relatively successful in containing the novel coronavirus pandemic and outbreaks of COVID-19.

According to Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Portugal has so far confirmed just over 24,000 cases and has registered 948 deaths.

On Monday, the Portuguese prime minister, Antonio Costa, announced that the country was considering easing its lockdown restrictions. According to Reuters, he said he was not afraid to take "a step backwards" if conditions worsened.


 

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