Greece’s migration ministry said Thursday Finland has agreed to take in 100 unaccompanied refugee children and 30 adults, expanding the number of European countries which have begun taking in young asylum-seekers from Greece.
The ministry said the agreement came in a call between deputy minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos and senior Finnish Interior Ministry official Olli-Poika Parviainen, adviser to Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo.
In February, the Finnish Interior Ministry said it would take up to 175 asylum-seekers from camps in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta “to alleviate the humanitarian situation” of refugees in the Mediterranean members of the European Union.
The children, and the adults who will be reunited with family members already in Finland, will be relocated in the coming weeks, by the end of May, Greece's ministry said, adding this was “a decision of practical solidarity” by the Nordic country.
Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, including thousands of unaccompanied children, are living in squalid conditions in overcrowded camps on several Greek islands after arriving from the nearby Turkish coast. Many more are housed in camps, apartments and other shelters across the mainland.
The government has reached out to other EU countries to help share the burden, and in recent weeks 12 children were flown to Luxembourg and 47 to Germany.
Greece is seeking to have 1,600 unaccompanied children relocated to other EU countries.
Separately, the migration ministry said it had received a shipment from Austria of 60 specially adapted containers to be used for housing, health facilities and quarantine in case of suspected coronavirus cases.
The migration ministry said the containers were part of a pledge of 181 such units being sent to Greece by Austria.
Forty of the newly arrived containers are to be shipped to the eastern Aegean island of Samos, where Greece's most overcrowded refugee camp is located. Ten will be used to cover urgent needs after a recent fire burned down accommodation, while the other 30 will be used as part of a new camp being built on the island, the ministry said.