Eleven Unaccompanied Refugee and Migrant Children Depart for France

Αssociated Press

FILE In this Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 file photo, migrant children stand on the window of a new reception center for unaccompanied minors in Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

PARIS -- With the departure of 11 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children on a flight for France on Tuesday, Greece has exceeded the target of 1,000 relocations set by the migration and asylum ministry's Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors.

The group of 10 boys from Afghanistan and one girl from Iraq left on a flight from Athens International Airport 'Eleftherios Venizelos', where they were seen off by Deputy Migration and Asylum Minister responsible for Integration Sofia Voultepsi and the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Irene Agapidaki.

A ministry announcement said this was a success for Greece in the context of efforts to protect the most vulnerable of vulnerable groups, launched in March 2020 with the establishment of the special secretariat and a decision by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Chief among the countries that accepted the children were Germany, France, Finland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Italy and Switzerland. The effort was supported by the European Commission and the International Organisation for Migration.

Roughly 80 pct of the 1,006 unaccompanied minors relocated so far are aged 15-17, 17 pct are between 11 and 14 years old, while 1 pct are up to 10 years old, 1 pct are under five and 1 pct are over 18. Up to 92 pct are boys and 8 pct are girls. The majority are from Afghanistan, followed by Syria, Pakistan, Congo and Egypt.

Another 84 minors are to be relocated to other EU member-states in the coming weeks.