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Art. 17 webinar: The DIFFICULT situation of migrant unaccompanied children

The harsh situation of the few thousands migrant unaccompanied children throughout Europe has been at the centre of a new webinar organised by the European Parliament, within the framework of the Art. 17 dialogue with churches and religious organisations. The event took place on Tuesday, 26 January 2021, and was hosted by Mrs. Roberta Metsola, MEP, EP Vice-President.

In the opening, EC Vice-President Margaritis Schinas pointed to the various improvements that have been made in this field over the past year, acknowledging nevertheless that much more efforts need to be made in order to put up a coherent reception system for these children. "Our main priority is the integration of these children in society, including acces to basic services, such as education, housing, food, health and psychological care, as well as reuniting them with their families," Schinas said.

"All children should be treated first and foremost as children, irrespective of their, or their parents', legal status."

In her turn, EP Vice-President Roberta Metsola underscored the pressing need for a long-term, permanent, systemic and sustainable solution, in place of the current mostly ad-hoc solutions. "We have to keep in mind that these children are very fragile, following the harsh experience that pushed them on this journey toward Europe. We also know that thousands of them have gone missing, and even though their number has has significantly decreased over the past few years, we have to ask ourselves: are our numbers genuine?

On behalf of the Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) Mrs. Efthalia PAPPA presented the current situation and challenges in the Greek context. "As of 18 January 2021, There are approximately 120,000 asylum-seekers and migrants in Greece, including 4, 050 children who arrived alone in the country or were separated from their families along the journey. While the situation in mainland Greece is better overall, most of the roughly 18.500 asylum-seekers at the reception and identification centres and the Mavrovouni site on the Greek Aegean Islands must cope with extremely difficult living conditions and are exposed to various security risks, including gender-based violence," Mrs. Pappa said.


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