UNICEF Global     TR
Home page > Press Centre > 2016 > March > 
Leave your contact details to get regular news from UNICEF

Press Centre (3/2016)

New EU-Turkey agreement on refugee and migrants could leave children at risk


GENEVA, 22 March 2016 – UNICEF today expressed concern that the new agreement between the EU and Turkey, which comes into effect this week, does not address the pressing humanitarian needs of 19,000 refugee and migrant children stranded in Greece.

Children make up 40 percent of the refugee and migrant population in Greece. It is estimated that unaccompanied children make up 10 percent of the child population.

UNICEF warned the new agreement could push children and families to take other more dangerous routes including the central Mediterranean Sea.

UNICEF welcomes EU leaders’ commitment to determining the individual status of refugees and migrants rather than collective expulsions, push-back practices or other measures that may be harmful to children.

The children’s agency, however, urges that a number of priorities are addressed:

• Unaccompanied and separated children are properly identified and taken into protective care rather than detention. They are entitled to a full hearing and assessment of their best interests prior to any decision related to them, including on return.  The capacity of state institutions in Greece needs to be scaled up significantly to deal with this new caseload.
• Child and family support services such as child friendly spaces, and safe mother and baby areas are rapidly expanded in ‘Blue Dots’ services.
• Children stranded for longer periods in Greece will require an expanded set of basic services such as emergency education. Many children have been out of school for several months and would benefit even from short term learning.
• To prevent disease outbreaks among children, urgent consideration has to be given to vaccinating refugee and migrant children, especially as many have been living in unsanitary conditions for weeks. An initial response would include vaccinating against measles, polio and pneumococcal infections.

###

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Crowe, Spokesperson on Refugee and Migrant Crisis, UNICEF Geneva
Tel: +41 079 543 8029, scrowe@unicef.org

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org