Moria refugee camp: Germany to take in up to 150 children

Date: 
September, 2020
Country: 
Germany

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced ten EU countries would take in a share of 400 unaccompanied minors from Greece. The EU is also set to propose a new agreement on migration and asylum in the bloc.

Germany is expected to take in 100 to 150 unaccompanied minors, after a fire left thousands homeless at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island Lesbos, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced on Friday in Berlin.

In addition to Germany, France and eight other EU countries have declared their willingness to receive a total of 400 unaccompanied minors, with France also taking in between 100 to 150 people.

The Netherlands also on Thursday declared its willingness to take in 100 unaccompanied minors. 

However, talks are still underway with other countries, Seehofer told a joint press conference with the EU Commission's Vice President Margaritas Schinas.

Countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have refused to accept compulsory intakes of refugees.

Schinas said that the Moria camp disaster added urgency for the bloc to reform migration policy.

"Moria is a sharp reminder to all of us for what we need to change in Europe," said Schinas, confirming that the European Commission will unveil proposals for a new pact on migration and asylum on September 30.

A new migration pact

The agreement would set forth management measures for the entire migration route, from origin and transit countries to the receiving countries in the EU.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson told DW that she is optimistic that all EU member states will back the pact.

"I have spent a lot of time talking with member states, parliaments, and other stakeholders," said Johansson. "And I do think that we can present holistic proposals that can get acceptance from all member states."

Antonio Vitorino, the director-general of the International Organisation for Migration, has called for a system of shared responsibility among EU member states on migration and asylum.

"We are definitely expecting that the pact on asylum migration that the European Commission has promised to put forward by September 30, but let's be clear, there are splits among the European member states in relation to migration and asylum," Vitorino told DW. "We need to build a strong political will to address the deep root causes of migration. That's the major lesson from the 2015 crisis."

Vitorino said the announcement that 10 EU member states will relocate nearly 400 unaccompanied minors from the Moria camp was not enough and more must be done.

"It's not enough, but it's a great help in these current circumstances," he told DW. "What happened in Moria is a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe that, to be honest, was just a catastrophe in waiting because the camp is overwhelmed."

Calls for EU solidarity

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday agreed to a deal that would allow 400 unaccompanied minors from the Moria camp to move to other parts of the European Union.

Merkel also called on EU member states to "finally assume more shared responsibility" for migration policy. 

A fire broke out at the Moria refugee camp on Tuesday night, where around 13,000 people were living in squalor and overcrowded conditions. 

The fire caused an international outcry against conditions at the camp and spurred several German states to offer their willingness to take in refugees. However, the states are grappling with the hurdle of gaining approval from the federal government. 

Source: DW