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Ukrainian Children as Young as 12 Arriving Unaccompanied in Ireland

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Bernard Gloster, head of Tusla, said the agency has seen 32 referrals of unaccompanied minors arriving in Ireland from Ukraine since the country was invaded by Russia last month.

The agency currently has 14 Ukrainian children in its care who have been separated from their families.

"They would be predominantly from young to late teens, but as recently as yesterday we received a 12-year-old into care," Gloster said.

Tusla is working alongside port authorities to discover separated children as soon as they arrive in Ireland.

"We took the decision on 16 March… to actually establish a presence with the airport authorities in the multi-agency response," Gloster said. "So we’re out there from half nine every morning to half two the following morning. I intend to keep that up and, depending on the scale of the demand over the next couple of weeks, at various other ports and centres we may have to mobilise a larger work force."

Tusla is also engaged in ensuring children who enter the country with adults who aren't their parents are not being trafficked.

"There are processes for discussing and obviously looking for any signs of distress," Gloster said. "But where children are travelling with adults who are not their own parents, their details will be taken and where they’re going to be placed – either with a family or in hotel accommodation – those details will be made known centrally into the Tusla register… And we will be following up on those to ensure the greatest level of protection where we can. There are always risks in responding to mass refugee status, and I think we have to remember, in Eurocentric terms, this is the biggest movement of people seeking protection since World War 2; that does come with hazards and dangers."

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