Unaccompanied refugee children prepare to fly from Athens to various EU countries. The first contingent left Greece for Luxembourg in mid-April | Photo: Reuters / Orestis Panagiotou
Unaccompanied refugee children prepare to fly from Athens to various EU countries. The first contingent left Greece for Luxembourg in mid-April | Photo: Reuters / Orestis Panagiotou

Finland is the latest EU country to announce it is preparing to fly about 100 unaccompanied children from overcrowded camps on the Greek islands to the capital Helsinki.

On Thursday, Greece's migration ministry announced it was preparing to fly around 100 unaccompanied children and about 30 adults, with relatives already in Finland, from the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands to the Finnish capital Helsinki.

According to the Daily Sabah, the announcement came after a call between the Deputy Migration Minister Giorgios Koumoutsakos and Finland’s Interior Ministry Official Olli-Poika Parviainen.

This was described by a spokesperson at Greece’s migration ministry as a "decision of practical solidarity," on the part of Finland.

According to the German press agency dpa, Switzerland has also announced it will fly out 22 unaccompanied children "in the next two weeks."

Transfering the vulnerable

The latest UNHCR data for the week April 20-26 shows that despite efforts by the Greek authorities to transfer some of the most vulnerable from the Greek islands, there are still about 38,700 migrants living in overcrowded conditions on the islands.

About a third of that population are children and about 13% of those are unaccompanied; the majority of them hail originally from Afghanistan.

To date no new arrivals were regsitered on the islands, and about 139 of the most vulnerable were transferred out of the camps to hotels providing temporary accommodation in order to shield them during the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 2, the Finnish interior ministry released a statement showing how it would apply for EU funding to host a total of 175 asylum seekers to be transferred from the Greek islands.

 

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