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DefenseThe EU must protect all children fleeing the war

The EU must protect all children fleeing the war

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MEPs call for safe passage for children fleeing war in Ukraine, as well as help for IDPs and those unable to leave the surrounding areas

With 509 votes in favor, 3 against and 47 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday recalling various measures needed to protect children and young people fleeing violence and to facilitate of their integration into the communities of the host countries.

“Every child has the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse,” (7) MEPs said, calling on EU countries to protect children from trafficking, illegal adoption and other forms of abuse.

They recommend that child protection officers be present at the borders so that they can quickly and accurately identify vulnerable children and register their nationality as well as their specific needs. National child protection systems should offer services such as psychosocial support, maternal health support, protection against gender-based violence, family search and family reunification support, as well as full access to all basic services and appropriate care.

Unaccompanied and separated children and children placed in institutional institutions should be assigned a guardian. The child protection services in the host country should monitor their well-being and whereabouts upon arrival in the EU, the resolution said.

Host countries should provide them with the same access to education and health care on an equal footing with other children in host countries, MEPs insist. They also advocate for relocation mechanisms that give priority to family reunification and the relocation of vulnerable children, such as the Solidarity Mechanism for EU-wide medical transfers to children and young people in need of immediate life-saving treatment and therapy.

MEPs call on EU countries to make the best use of available EU funds to support the socio-economic integration of refugees and protect them from discrimination and social exclusion. If necessary, additional resources should be provided, the text adds.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than four million people have fled their homes and sought refuge, mostly in the EU’s neighboring countries, namely Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as the Republic of Moldova. According to UNICEF, almost half of the fugitives are minors and in need of increased protection, as there is a greater risk of being trafficked and exploited.

At the same time, MEPs have decided that EU countries that have sheltered people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine will receive 3.4 billion euros immediately.

After Parliament gave the green light during the last plenary session to redirect EU funds for regional development and asylum to EU countries sheltering people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, MEPs adopted additional urgent measures to support them.

With 549 votes in favor, 1 against and 8 abstentions, Parliament agreed to immediately allocate around € 3.4 billion (out of the available € 10 billion) from the REACT-EU funds and to speed up EU governments’ access to infrastructure, housing, equipment, employment, education, social inclusion, health and childcare for refugees.

The new rules will increase the initial pre-financing of REACT-EU funds from 11% to 15% for all EU countries. EU countries bordering Ukraine (Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) and those that have received a significant number of refugees from Ukraine, equal to more than 1% of their population (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Estonia), can receive 45% (instead of 11%) of the refund immediately, without the need to present invoices at this time.

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