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Germany is sending a clear signal of European solidarity: First group of children from Greek island camps arrives in Hannover

First group of children from Greek island camps arrives in Hannover

First group of children from Greek island camps arrives in Hannover, © dpa

18.04.2020 - Pressemitteilung

Unaccompanied children and young people arrived in Hanover by plane from Athens. This was arranged by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in support of Greece. It was the first step in a European effort to help refugee minors on Greek islands.

This morning, 47 unaccompanied children and young people arrived in Hanover (Lower Saxony) by plane from Athens. This was arranged by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in support of Greece. It was the first step in a European effort to help refugee minors on Greek islands.

Forty-two of the group are under 14 years of age. Of the remaining five, four are travelling with younger siblings. All of them will now remain in quarantine in Lower Saxony for two weeks before being allocated to federal states across Germany.

Federal Minister Seehofer said: "I am pleased that we are able to receive this first group of unaccompanied minors today, despite the severe constraints of the corona crisis. This has been the result of months of preparation and intense talks with our European partners. Germany is honouring its commitment, sending a clear signal of European solidarity. I am sure that our European partners will also begin to honour their commitments as soon as possible."

Lower Saxony’s Minister of the Interior and Sport, Boris Pistorius, said: "I am very pleased that Lower Saxony is receiving the first group of unaccompanied minors from Greece today. It is a start. During my last visit to the Greek island camps five months ago, the situation was already unbearable. The coalition of the willing is a sign of European solidarity with Greece and with refugees who find themselves in desperate circumstances. The children will now stay for at least two weeks in Lower Saxony to recover their strength and undergo medical checks. In connection with this I would like to thank the rural district of Osnabrück, which will be responsible for the children initially."

The unaccompanied minors had previously been staying in refugee camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios. They are originally from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea. Among them are four girls and several pairs of siblings. The European Commission is responsible for coordinating this EU-wide campaign together with the Greek authorities, the UNHCR, and the European asylum agency EASO. All of the children and young people were tested for covid-19 infection before flying to Germany.

On 8 March 2020, the government coalition committee decided to make a humanitarian contribution to help Greece cope with the difficult humanitarian situation on the Greek islands, and above all to improve the situation of children in migrant hotspots. Overall, as part of a European effort, at least 350 minors are to be received by Germany.

Ten EU member states have already confirmed that they are willing to receive migrant and refugee minors from the Greek islands. Owing to domestic challenges in dealing with the corona pandemic, there are currently delays in some countries. Twelve unaccompanied minors already arrived in Luxembourg on Wednesday this week.

Also on board the plane arriving this morning were two children who had been kidnapped by their father and are now being returned to their mother in Germany.

After quarantine: Children flown out of Greek island refugee camps to be allocated among federal states across Germany

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