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The challenge of the 123 minors alone of the ' Aquarius '

More than a hundred children without families traveling in the Aquarius will disembark in Valencia and enter a host system frequently criticized by humanitarian organizations

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The challenge of the 123 minors alone of the ' Aquarius '
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  • How many migrant children roam alone in Spain?
  • Karpov EFEEl status of 629 migrants of ' Aquarius ' will be studied on a case by case basis

In Aquarius and two Italian ships sailing to Valencia with 629 immigrants on board travel 123 children alone. This group is particularly concerned with government for being a vulnerable collective that may have been victim of abuse, trafficking in people and trafficking in ir countries of origin. Their treatment is different from that applied to migrant adults. They will enter into a system of protection often criticized by social organizations, which denounce precariousness of minors and obstacles to form and to regulate ir situation when y turn 18 years old.

The first step after landing of children of Aquarius will be to identify who are those minors and if indeed y come alone. The priority is to welcome m and only repatriate m when it is concluded that best thing for m is to return m to ir country with ir family or take m to a third party. The Aliens Act prohibits ir arrest. "It is vital that you have specialized personnel for your attention. We have opportunity to make a welcome with a real approach to children, ' maintains UNICEF's policy advocacy officer, Cristina Junquera.

The Department of Equality and inclusive policies of Valencian Community will distribute to minors in six centers of reception of Autonomous network. There documentation is prepared and a report is prepared, within a period of up to 45 days, to derive m to most appropriate place, especially if y have special needs. In Alicante, it will be home to those over 12 years old: A group of 61 children between 16 and 17 years old and anor of 28 minors aged between 13 and 15 years.

The capacity of reception network is 130 seats, according to department's information. The limitations of system were cause of complaint of Catalan Ombudsman, Ombudsman of Valencian Community. His latest report highlights overoccupation of se centers, which become a bottleneck to access protection system. In a second stage we will study distribution of young people in Valencian reception centres and or communities that have offered to help, a step prior to search for a possible host family.

The disembarkation of minors will oblige to coordinate to Institute of Legal Medicine of Alicante, prosecutor's Office of minors, police and courts. One of procedures that involves identification of newcomers, that most of time y are without documents, are medical tests, ordered by a prosecutor, to determine ir age. For humanitarian organizations, this practice should be an exception, but it ends up being part of process when re are doubts about it. There are different medical tests that help to calculate age of a person and that are questioned by ir wide margin of mistake-an error, in se cases, leaves out of system of protection to homeless minors. One is to check signs of sexual maturity, bone maturation from a wrist test, length of clavicle and a dental test.

60% more Single children

The arrival and reception of minor foreigners alone in Spain is a constant concern of organizations dedicated to protection of children. 14% of 28,349 people who arrived in Spain irregularly in 2017 are boys and girls-although it is not possible to determine how many came alone-according to latest report by Save Children. Only in Patera, during 2017 came to Spain 2,177 unaccompanied minors, almost four times more than in previous year. The organization maintains that "Spain is still not ready to welcome children who arrive alone and condemns m to invisibility and exclusion."

With increase in arrivals, number of foreign children protected by Autonomous Communities has also grown, report reveals. In 2017 re were 6,414 migrant children under administration's guard, an increase of 60.4% over previous year. Most of m are Moroccans (64%), followed by Algerians (9.6%). In Valencian Community, sixth in percentage of supervised children, this increase has been of 174% (of 108 children in 2014, to 296 in 2017). Despite its vulnerable profile, only 100 children have sought asylum in last five years, according to Ministry of Interior, a figure that shows lack of access to international protection of youngest. Two out of three of those petitions were rejected.

Anor problem facing Spanish protection system, which also denounced Save children, is escape of minors, who end up living in street, without papers and in total helplessness. In 2016, protection services voluntarily abandoned a total of 825 minors, ignoring ir current whereabouts.


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