Published by Bianet 24 March 2016

According to UNICEF warning that “the new agreement could push children and families to take other more dangerous routes including the central Mediterranean Sea”, the deal “does not address the pressing humanitarian needs of 19,000 refugee and migrant children stranded in Greece”.

UNICEF has expressed its concerns with regards to the new agreement between EU and Turkey.

According to UNICEF, the deal “does not address the pressing humanitarian needs of 19,000 refugee and migrant children stranded in Greece”.

UNICEF has added that “the new agreement could push children and families to take other more dangerous routes including the central Mediterranean Sea”.

40% are children

40% of the refugee and migrant population in Greece are children. It is estimated that unaccompanied children make up 10% of the child population.

Status

On the other hand, UNICEF has that they would welcome “EU leaders’ commitment to determining the individual status of refugees and migrants rather than collective expulsions, push-back practices or other measures that may be harmful to children”.

Primary issues

The issues which should be treated primarily are as follows:

* “Unaccompanied and separated children are properly identified and taken into protective care rather than detention. They are entitled to a full hearing and assessment of their best interests prior to any decision related to them, including on return.

* “The capacity of state institutions in Greece needs to be scaled up significantly to deal with this new caseload.

* “Child and family support services such as child friendly spaces, and safe mother and baby areas are rapidly expanded in ‘Blue Dots’ services.

* “Children stranded for longer periods in Greece will require an expanded set of basic services such as emergency education. Many children have been out of school for several months and would benefit even from short term learning.

* “To prevent disease outbreaks among children, urgent consideration has to be given to vaccinating refugee and migrant children, especially as many have been living in unsanitary conditions for weeks. An initial response would include vaccinating against measles, polio and pneumococcal infections”.

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