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Arrival of asylum seeking children postponed to July

The first group of 25, out of a total of 175 from a Greek refugee camp, had been due to arrive to Finland this month.

Lapsi kantaa vesitynnyriä Morian pakolaisleirillä Kreikassa.
A child carries water in Moria refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece. Image: Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

The transfer of a group of 25 child asylum seekers from Greek refugee camps to Finland, due to happen in June, has now been postponed until July.

The Finnish Immigration Service, Migri, explained in a press release issued Monday that the delay was due to "practical reasons".

"Suitable representatives must be found for all unaccompanied minors, and all minors must be interviewed before they are relocated in order to assess what is best for them," the statement read.

Migri added that each arriving asylum seeker would also have to undergo a medical examination.

In February, the government announced that Finland would take in 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region, but that they would arrive to Finland at different times. At the time, the government explained that priority would be given to children and single-parent families, and those coming from countries where the security situation is particularly bad, such as Syria or Afghanistan.

Transfer of all 175 likely to take "some months"

Migri further announced that while efforts were underway to transfer the minors, it will take "some months" before it will be possible to complete the transfers of all 175.

"Greece, the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) are working hard to get all unaccompanied minors moved from the Greek islands to the mainland and to prepare the children for relocation as soon as possible," Migri’s Relocation Liaison Officer and Project Manager Monna Airiainen said in the agency statement.

Finland is due to transfer a total of about 100 unaccompanied children from refugee camps in Greece, as well as about 30 asylum seekers from a camp in Cyprus and 26 from Malta.

Single-parent families may also be considered for asylum from all three locations.

Migri said the exact timetable for the transfers will be specified at a later date.

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