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Children in migration are amongst the most vulnerable people in need of a safe and stable environment, access to quality education and child specific services. In Greece, the needs of these children are not always met.

Of the 79,500 refugees and migrants estimated to have stayed in Greece since 2015, 28,500 are children. Among them, around 3,900 unaccompanied and separated children have been recorded, with new children identified every day.

Many of these children are exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation. They need access to appropriate services – including adequate identification, registration, age assessment, guardianship, education, legal representation, quality accommodation and care.

Chronic deficiencies

There have been chronic deficiencies in Greek reception, asylum and child protection systems. To address this, representatives from Greek authorities, EU institutions, European and national civil society actors as well as international organisations, met in Athens in May to discuss child protection challenges and solutions.

Civil Society actors, including Destination Unknown member Terre des Hommes, have since developed recommendations on how to improve the situation for children and develop a long-term child protection strategy in Greece.

EU institutions can improve the lives of children in migration in Greece by providing the funding needed, increasing transparency and supporting innovative child protection solutions – such as Supported Independent Living Schemes for those over 16, or the increased use of foster care.

Upcoming decisions on the future EU budget provide a clear opportunity for the EU to demonstrate it’s commitment to children in migration. To do this, Destination Unknown urges the EU to ensure that this funding is used to promote and protect the rights of all children in migration – both within Greece and beyond.

Destination Unknown supports this call on the European Commission to assist Greece and other EU Member States in helping children in migration by:

  • Creating improved and more transparent funding procedures so that EU Member States can allocate the funding to the local implementing actors and civil society organisations in the best possible way and for all set priorities;
  • Improving monitoring and accountability mechanisms for EU asylum, migration and integration funding;
  • Urging EU Member States to implement speedier and more flexible family reunification procedures in line with the EU Directives and the Dublin Regulation, having the best interests of the child as a guiding principle throughout the process.

In addition, EU Member States should:

  • Examine family reunification requests having the bests interests of the child as a guiding principle;
  • Proceed in the adoption of bilateral agreements with other EU Member States, following the example of UK’s Dubs amendment to increase relocation pledges for refugee children.

Destination Unknown also supports recommendations for the Greek government on how to best respond to this crisis for children. The full recommendations, drawn up as part of the Initiative for Children in Migration, are available here.

Picture: A child in a reception centre in Greece in 2016. ©Tdh/Angélique Bühlmann

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