March
06
2019
Author
Dave Smith
New Report from Safe Passage highlights dangers for Unaccompanied Children in Geece

A new report by the child refugee charity Safe Passage and Greek NGO PRAKSIS has identified serious problems with the family reunification procedure for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors arriving in Europe, exposing children to significant physical and mental harm as a result of lengthy separation from loved ones.

The EU Dublin III Regulation sets out the family reunification rules by which asylum seekers arriving in the EU can apply to be transferred to another member state where they have family. 17,199 unaccompanied minors were recorded as having arrived in Greece between January 2016 and November 2018 and made up 37% of all arrivals in the first quarter of 2018.  The report’s findings indicate that unaccompanied children arriving in Greece and applying for family reunion are waiting an average of 16 months from arrival until transfer, far exceeding the maximum of 11 months provided for in the Dublin Regulation. In some cases, children have been made to wait for over a year and a half.

The report, based on extensive analysis of the experiences of 80 children who arrived in Greece and applied to reunite with family between December 2015 and November 2017, identified significant challenges impeding the process, among which the most striking is a lack of cooperation and information sharing between national authorities handling the children’s cases. Though the best interests of the child were prioritised in some instances, researchers found that many cases involved lengthy setbacks, unnecessary administrative hurdles and demands for proof of a family link far exceeding that required under EU law. The majority of cases first rejected on the grounds of lack of evidence were ultimately accepted, causing unnecessary and traumatic delays in children being reunited with their loved ones.

The report can be found in the R2C2 Resources Section here.