Abril de 2017/Fuente: Reliefweb
Entre enero y marzo de 2017, uno de cada cuatro de los 29.758 refugiados y migrantes ingresados en Europa por mar eran niños. Durante el mismo período de tiempo, cerca de 25.000 niños han solicitado asilo en Europa, mientras que alrededor de 24.600 permanecen varados en Grecia y los Balcanes.
Hasta la fecha, en 2017, con ayuda del UNICEF, se han identificado y apoyado un total de 1.803 niños en situación de riesgo mediante actividades de difusión en Turquía, Grecia, Italia, Serbia y la ex República Yugoslava de Macedonia, mientras que 1.856 niños siguieron teniendo acceso a educación regular estructurada en Grecia, Bulgaria, Serbia y la ex República Yugoslava de Macedonia. Además, el UNICEF capacitó a 768 trabajadores de primera línea en toda Europa.
En marzo se adoptó una nueva ley progresiva en Italia para impulsar el apoyo y la protección del número récord de niños extranjeros no acompañados y separados que llegaron a Italia. Sin embargo, aún queda mucho por hacer para garantizar condiciones de acogida adecuadas, servicios e información en un idioma que los niños entiendan no sólo en Italia, sino también en toda Europa. Por otra parte, los derechos de los niños deben ser protegidos y sus intereses deben ser evaluados adecuadamente al hacer cumplir las decisiones de retorno en un contexto de retornos en toda Europa.
- Between January and March 2017, one in four of the 29,758 refugees and migrants entered Europe by sea were children. During the same period of time, close to 25,000 children have claimed asylum in Europe, while around 24,600 remain stranded in Greece and the Balkans.
- So far in 2017, with UNICEF support a total of 1,803 children at risk have been identified and supported through outreach activities in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while 1,856 children continued accessing regular structured education in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In addition, UNICEF trained 768 frontline workers across Europe.In March, a progressive new law was adopted in Italy to boost support and protection for the record number of foreign unaccompanied and separated children who arrived in Italy. Yet, more needs to be done to ensure appropriate reception conditions, services and information provision in a language that children understand not only in Italy, but across Europe. Moreover, children’s rights should be protected and their best interests properly assessed when enforcing return decisions in a context of returns across Europe.
Situation In Numbers
# of arrivals in Europe through Italy, Greece and Spain in January-March 2017 (UNHCR, 6 April 2017)
1 in 4
Of all arrivals in January-March 2017 are children (UNHCR, 10 April 2017)
# of child asylum-seekers in Europe between January and March 2017 (Eurostat, 10 April 2017)
# of estimated stranded children in Greece, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia in February, 2017(UNICEF, 7 April 2017)
UNICEF Appeal 2017 US$ 43,452,000
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Between January and March 2017, 29,758 refugees and migrants entered Europe by sea, including 12,327 new arrivals in March. While this is three times lower compared to March 2016, there is a steady increase of arrivals from January to March mainly through the Central Mediterranean, marked by the improved weather conditions. Overall, children make one in four of all arrivals by sea (16 per cent in Italy and more than 27 per cent in Greece). During the same period of time, 24,785 refugee and migrant children claimed asylum across Europe (one in every three asylum seekers), while 24,614 remained stranded in Greece and the rest of the Balkans .
March saw the adoption of a very progressive new law (so called Zampa Act) in Italy, which aims to boost support and protection for the record number of foreign unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) who arrived through the Central Mediterranean Route. It is the first comprehensive act for refugee and migrant UASC in Italy, guaranteeing the principle of non-refoulement and banning returns against the child’s best interests; reduced time in first-line reception centres; improved guardianship system and alternative care solutions; stronger protection standards in all reception facilities; and recruitment of additional qualified cultural mediators to support communication with children at risk.
Nevertheless, reception conditions, access to services, and information in a language that children understand, remain major challenges across Europe. A recent study “Childhood on Hold”, released by UNICEF-Germany, suggests that refugee and migrant children spend too much time in refugee reception and accommodation centres with limited implementation of protection standards and access to services. They are disadvantaged compared to their German peers, for example in terms of accessto health, education, social protection and other services. There are also serious inequities among refugee and migrant children themselves, increasingly depending on which federal state they have been allocated to, their country of origin, and their legally-confirmed prospects of permanent residence in Germany. Children from so-called “safe countries” (such as Western Balkans States) or countries with low asylum recognition rate have extremely limited access to services. According to the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, other EU member states experience similar challenges in responding to the needs of refugee and migrant children, leading to psychosocial distress, mental health issues and further exposure to risks of abuse and exploitation.5 In Greece, for example, reports of deep levels of distress and frustration among children and their families have been multiplying since the beginning of the year. Despite recent improvement in living conditions, some unaccompanied children in shelters suffer psychosocial distress, with high levels of anxiety, aggression and demonstrating high risk behaviour such as drugs and prostitution.
Overall, one year after the EU-Turkey statement, the political situation remains volatile, with increased focus on speedy enforcement of returns (especially Afghans) to both countries of origin and first EU countries of arrival, under Dublin regulations. These, however, may put children’s rights at stake when taking place without proper best interests determination procedures.