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ENOC Open Letter: Emergency situation for migrant children trapped in camps at the Greek border

As the world combats an unprecedented health crisis, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) has released an open letter highlighting that refugee and migrant children are facing a human rights emergency.

The letter draws attention to the situation at camps on the Greek islands and Greece-Turkey border, where:

  • children’s most basic rights are deprived, including shelter, water, food, access to health care and education,
  • an increasing number of children and young people are struggling with severe mental health issues,
  • children are trapped in overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a member of ENOC we’re calling for action

As a member of ENOC we’re calling on European States and Institutions to ensure their polices, laws and practices are fully compliant with:

  • the UNCRC, and
  • other relevant European and International human rights instruments that ensure the protection of all children and the consideration of their best interests as a primary consideration.

Children have the right to life, survival and development, as well as to protection from any form of harm. Protecting children caught in humanitarian emergencies must be a priority during the current pandemic.

So we urge for the immediate evacuation of migrant children – whether accompanied or unaccompanied – from the refugee camps on the Greek islands.

And we call on European Union Member States to massively relocate refugee and migrant children from the camps at the border between Greece and Turkey and from the Greek Islands as soon as possible, giving precedence to the best interests of the child.

A symbolic illustration of Article 6 of the UNCRC.

UNCRC Article 6

I should be supported to live and grow

Article 6 of the UNCRC recognises that all children and young people have the right to survive and the right to develop.

symbolic illustration of Article 22 of the UNCRC.

UNCRC Article 22

If I am a refugee, I have the same rights as children born in that country

Children and young people who are refugees have the right to special protection and help.