Germany moves forward on taking in hundreds of refugee children from Greece | News | DW | 08.04.2020
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages
Advertisement

News

Germany moves forward on taking in hundreds of refugee children from Greece

German officials have expressed regret over the lackluster response from other EU states on resettling unaccompanied minors. Rights groups have described the children as some of the "most vulnerable people in the world."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday said Germany would move forward with plans to resettle hundreds of unaccompanied minors stranded in squalid refugee camps in Greece.

"Apart from Luxembourg, we are the only country that is at all willing to take in children," Maas told German broadcaster RTL. "But we do not want to wait longer for others to act and are starting now."

By next week, up to 50 children could arrive in Germany, where they would be held in quarantine in Lower Saxony for two weeks to ensure they do not pose a risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Read more: Coronavirus — Greece quarantines migrant camps

'Shameful'

In an interview with DW, EU lawmaker Erik Marquardt of Germany's Green Party criticized the decision as insufficient, describing the resettlement of 50 unaccompanied minors in the first group as "very shameful."

"When there are 80,000 people being brought in from Romania to harvest asparagus, when they are flying back 200,000 tourists to Germany, then nobody can tell me that the maximum capacity is 50 unaccompanied minors — especially in a country like Germany with 82 million people," Marquardt said.

The Germany government has spearheaded a project to resettle up to 1,500 unaccompanied minors from Greece. Berlin agreed to take in around 500 of them, while Luxembourg pledged to accept 12 by next week.

Read more: Coronavirus outbreak puts pregnant refugees in Greece at increased risk

Children especially vulnerable

The vast majority of unaccompanied minors are located on Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Refugee camps on the Greek islands are much more overcrowded than their mainland counterparts.

Earlier this year, human rights groups called on EU member states to take decisive action and resettle vulnerable unaccompanied minors, especially those under the age of 14 and struggling with illnesses.

"Unaccompanied migrant children are some of the most vulnerable people in the world," said Eva Cosse, who researches Greece for Human Rights Watch. "Yet lone children on the Greek islands are being deprived of the most basic necessities of life and living in inhuman conditions."

At the peak of the migration crisis of 2015, Greece served as the main gateway into the EU for hundreds of thousands of migrants, many of them refugees fleeing war and extreme poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

ls/aw(AFP, dpa)

Every evening, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.