UNICEF welcomes presence of child and family agency officials in Greece

8th November 2016

DUBLIN, Tues 08 Nov 2016 UNICEF Ireland has welcomed the presence of officials from the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, in Greece, where they will meet with unaccompanied refugee and migrant children. They are travelling as part of a group of Irish child welfare officials.

There are almost 27,500 children stranded in Greece, and the number continues to rise. There are at least 2,250 unaccompanied children in Greece yet only a third stay in formal shelters. The numbers are even more staggering in Italy, where more than 20,500 unaccompanied children have arrived since January.

Worldwide, 28 million children have been uprooted because of conflict alone. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, has said Ireland has a moral duty to support unaccompanied children fleeing thugs, terrorists and tyrants in their own countries.

Tusla’s Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum, which supports all those arriving alone in Ireland, has so far received referrals for 101 children this year. Tusla officials in Greece this week are continuing their work to transfer 20 unaccompanied children to Ireland, by the end of 2017.

Uprooted children find themselves in desperate situations, and they need urgent and safe solutions.  UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “Unaccompanied children are often fleeing conflict and violence, as well as poor conditions in camps in Europe, children on the move face further dangers along the way, and even the possibility of death. They need our compassion and our assistance. I welcome Minister Zappone’s passionate support for these children and I hope Irish officials are able to hasten safe passage for some of the children they meet this week in Greece”.

Minister Zappone has asked TUSLA to review its capacity to deal with greater numbers of children. UNICEF Ireland welcomes the Minister’s commitment to consider an emergency or humanitarian intake of children, as part of that review.

Peter Power said: “We hope the Irish government’s response now reflects the deep concern of Ireland’s people. We need additional resources to be set aside in order to offer these children safety and security – something they have never been able to take for granted.”

ENDS

*NOTE* UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power is travelling in the field this week, but is available for interview.

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For more information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | aedin@unicef.ie Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272