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2020.04.07 15:00

Lithuania to resettle two refugee children from Greece

Benas Gerdžiūnas, LRT.lt2020.04.07 15:00

Lithuania has agreed to accept two unaccompanied minors to be transferred from Greece, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday.

“Lithuania decided on March 13 to transfer from Greece up to two unaccompanied minors who need asylum and do not pose a threat to public safety and security,” Božena Zaborovska-Zdanovič, the spokeswoman for the interior minister, told LRT English in a written comment.

Read more: Lithuania pushes back refugee resettlement deadline

“The priority is given to those who have relatives [...] in Lithuania, know English, Russian, French or German languages, or have their compatriots at the Refugee Reception Centre [in Lithuania],” she added.

According to previous media reports, ten European countries have offered to host more than 900 children who are currently in Greece.

Greek City Times, an English-languge news website, has quoted unnamed government officials saying that Germany has “expressed interest in relocating 350 children, France 300 children, Bulgaria 50, Ireland 36”.

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s contribution will be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While the quarantine is in place and the borders are closed, the transfer procedures will not take place,” said Zaborovska-Zdanovič.

In November last year, Greece asked EU member states to accept thousands of unaccompanied minors who arrived in the country alone.

Read more: EU fails to agree migrant deal said to have Lithuanian participation

Citing figures from Europol, the EU’s police agency, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said in March that Greece hosted some 5,500 children without guardians.

Around 10 percent are under 14 and many disappear from the reception centres, she was quoted by EUobserver.

"I am afraid that many of them fall in the hands of criminals," said Johansson.