EASO to facilitate relocation of unaccompanied minors from Greece

Migrants from Syria, Iraq and sub-saharan African countries arrive on a dinghy near the city of Mytilene, after crossing part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the island of Lesbos, Greece, March 1, 2020. REUTERS/Elias Marcou

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will immediately begin supporting the relocation of 1,600 Unaccompanied Minors (UAMs) from Greece to EU+ Member States.

The EASO and the Greek Government agreed to an amendment to the Greek Operating Plan which allows for the Agency to facilitate the relocation of 1,600 UAMs from Greece to participating EU+ Member States in the scheme. This was announced by the European Asylum Support Office in a statement published on Wednesday.

The amendment was signed by EASO’s Executive Director, Nina Gregori, and the Greek Alternate Minister for Migration and Asylum, Giorgos Koumoutsakos.

The scheme will be implemented based on workflows agreed to by all involved parties, namely: EASO, the European Commission, the Greek Ministry for Migration and Asylum, IOM, UNICEF, UNHCR, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the participating EU+ Member States.

Gregori stated that the EASO is proud to facilitate this important scheme which not only shows European solidarity for Greece, but will also provide 1,600 vulnerable children with a chance for a safe new life.

EASO will carry out the matching of UAMs to pledging the Member States, using defined criteria such as family, linguistic and cultural tries.

EASO has adapted the operational working methods so as to ensure the safety of its personnel, as well as of asylum seekers, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two pilot relocations have already taken place; 12 to Luxembourg and 55 to Germany.

Throughout 2020, the Agency is in the process of doubling its operations in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the goal remains to have up to 2,000 personnel in its operations by the end of the year.