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    18 unaccompanied minors arrive in Belgium from Greece

    Credit: Frantisek Trampota / Flickr

    18 unaccompanied minor asylum seekers arrived in Belgium from Greece on Tuesday as part of the EU’s Solidarity Plan, aimed at relocating asylum seekers.

    Amongst the minors are 17 boys and 1 girl, with ages ranging from 9 to 18. They originate from Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Guinea. All were living alone in refugee camps in the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos. They underwent a medical screening and were tested for Covid-19 before boarding the flight.

    In Belgium, the federal asylum agency (Fedasil) will be receiving them in an observation centre for unaccompanied minors for two to four weeks. They will take part in a specialised programme to determine their individual needs while the Belgian state evaluates their asylum requests.

    Following their stay at the centre, the youngsters will be sent to different locations in Belgium to continue their procedure.

    The EU’s Solidarity plan aims to spread the responsibility for taking in asylum seekers evenly between member states. In March, the European Commission called on members to take in 1,600 unaccompanied minors. Since then, 11 countries pledged to take in asylum seekers, including Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Slovenia.

    On 8 May, Minister of Asylum and Migration Maggie De Block pledged to take in the 18 minors that arrived on Tuesday. De Block stated that this would be a one-time occurrence, and called for a better long term strategy, saying this plan is “unsustainable”.

    Germany pledged to take in 243 sick or vulnerable children. France will receive 350 minors, and Portugal 500.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times