Saturday 19 September 2020

Take in older Lesbos refugee children too, Unicef official urges the Netherlands

Just 6% of the 12,500 people left homeless have been rehoused. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

Children’s rights organisation Unicef has urged the Netherlands to take in youngsters who are older than 14 from the Greek island of Lesbos, where a massive refugee camp was destroyed by fire.

The Netherlands has agreed to take in 100 people from the camp – 50 children under the age of 14 and 50 other ‘vulnerable’ people.

However, Luciana Calestini, director of Unicef Greece, told the AD in an interview that more than 80% of the unaccompanied minors in the camp are over the age of 14.

‘We are calling on all countries not to slap on such criteria but to look at individual cases,’ he said. ‘Most of the children come from Afghanistan. If every country keeps to the criteria, they will never be relocated. Europe has to find a place for these children and give them the opportunity to restart their lives.’

The Netherlands has agreed to take in 100 people from Lesbos but will cut the number of asylum seekers it will accept from another UN scheme by 100 to compensate.

This means 100 of the 500 recognised refugees from war zones that the Netherlands was due to take in next year under a UN scheme will not now be allowed to come.

The compromise, thrashed out by the four coalition parties last week, was been slammed by opposition parties on both sides of the political spectrum as well as refugee organisations.

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