STATEMENT: UNICEF Ireland welcomes the relocation of eight unaccompanied children from Greece

17th June 2020

Statement attributable to Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland

DUBLIN, 17.06.2020 – The relocation of 8 unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children from the Greek Islands to Ireland today must be warmly welcomed.

“These children, who have fled violence, conflict and poverty, survived dangerous journeys and stayed in dire conditions in crowded reception facilities, will finally have a fair chance to build a better future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made efforts to relocate children even more challenging. But today’s successful transfer proves again that Member States can follow through on their commitments while adhering to all public health guidelines and measures. 

“In fact, the spread of COVID-19 should spur EU countries to accelerate action on relocation pledges that have already been made and encourage other Member States to take similar action.

The fulfilment of Ireland’s commitment to relocate up to 36 unaccompanied children currently in Greece is crucially important, as a valuable expression of solidarity with those countries receiving the greatest number of refugees and migrants and a tangible impact on the challenging situation faced by children in Greece.

“UNICEF is working with partners to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among refugee and migrant populations on the Greek islands and on the mainland. This work includes procuring essential supplies, promoting hygiene practices that help prevent the spread of the virus in shelters, camps and other accommodation sites, developing child-friendly accurate information on COVID-19, including materials that address stigma and discrimination.

“UNICEF is appealing for $133 million to shield vulnerable children and their families, including refugee and migrant children, in the Europe and Central Asia Region from the worst impact of the global pandemic.

“EU solidarity is needed to develop a region-wide system of migration and asylum that protects the rights of all children. Until then, UNICEF urges EU Member States to continue to explore all possible measures to expedite the relocation of unaccompanied and separated children in line with relevant public health requirements and child protection principles.”

ENDS

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Notes for Editors:

UNICEF is warning that 6,000 additional children a day could die over the next six months, due to the impact of the #Covid19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown of essential services. Read more about that research from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Support UNICEF Ireland’s #Covid19 Children’s Appeal here

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For more information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, UNICEF Ireland Communications and Media Manager, aedin@unicef.ie

Tel: +353 1 809 0291, Mob: +353 85 1395272