(Source: CD/Caritas Europa)

  • Together with its partners, Catholic social relief group Caritas Europa is calling on European states to immediately honour their commitments to relocate unaccompanied children from the Greek islands.

Caritas along with a total of 66 civil society organisations has called on European governments to proceed immediately with the emergency relocation of unaccompanied children from the Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) on the Greek islands, without discrimination and by giving precedence to existing family links and the best interests of the child.

In early March, we had made an initial call for the swift relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands.

But now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, immediate action is all the more urgent. Overcrowding and extremely limited access to running water, toilets and showers make it impossible to abide by the guidelines for protecting oneself from COVID-19.

We urge Germany, France, Portugal, Finland, Lithuania, Croatia and Ireland to follow Luxembourg’s lead in this emergency and ensure that their pledged relocations are immediately implemented.

All relocations must be done in line with the best interests of the child, with priority to family links, ensuring broad eligibility that does not discriminate against specific nationalities, gender, date of arrival or certain age groups.

Meanwhile, we call on additional European countries to join with pledges of their own to relocate more unaccompanied children and to ensure that those now trapped in the islands’ RICs can be relocated safely and immediately.

Where there is political will, these transfers are possible. There is no time to lose.

Full text of Caritas’ latest appeal:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.