First group of child migrants arrives in Mediterranean deal

Twenty five unaccompanied minors have arrived from Greece, and they'll be tested for coronavirus before being transferred to units which specialise in looking after young people.

File picture of Migri logo on glass door / Credit: Migri Twitter

The first group of children and young people from refugee camps in the Mediterranean region arrived in Finland on Wednesday.

The 24 minors, aged 10 to 16, came to Finland as part of a deal the Finnish government announced in February to ease pressure on refugee camps in several countries including Greece, Malta, Italy and Cyprus.

Under the terms of the arrangement 175 children who don’t have parents, will come to Finland and have their asylum applications processed here.

“In Finland, we have a good readiness and experience in receiving asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region” says Jaana Vuorio, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service Migri, in a statement.

“The situation in the Greek islands is very acute, so it is great that we can cooperate within the EU by supporting the Mediterranean countries” she adds.

The arrival of the first group of children, who mostly come originally from Afghanistan, was delayed because of the coronavirus crisis. They will now be given a health checkup and a coronavirus test before moving to reception centres that specialist in helping young people, and undertake the equivalent of 14 days quarantine.

After the period of isolation the unaccompanied children will go to group homes, or hybrid units for minors, where Migri says they can receive the support services they need. Extra places have been arranged at reception centres in Espoo, Kotka, Oravais, Oulu and Sipoo.

Preparations underway for next arrivals

Authorities say they’re already preparing for the next group of young people to arrive within a couple of weeks, with 30 coming from Cyprus and another 26 from Malta. The majority of unaccompanied migrants who will come to Finland are from Greece.

Migri is receiving €12 million in support from a special EU fund to cover the costs of hosting the children while their applications are being processed.