With the aim of resolving the problem of prolonged stay for unaccompanied minors in detention centers, due to the lack of persons both capable and available to undertake the responsibility of escorting, METAdrasi has created a trained network of escorts across Greece, which is constituted and activated “ad hoc” according to the needs of the different escorts. The “flexible group of escorts” consists of a social worker, interpreters, selected according to the language or languages spoken by the minors, and a person responsible for security.
Apart from safe transfer by averting any smuggler attempts to approach the children, the latter are also thoroughly informed as to the dangers they might encounter should they leave the reception center (e.g. physical abuse, rape, organ trafficking) and where to seek help in case anything happens. They are also informed as to their rights and the benefits of the accommodation facilities to which we escort them (e.g. courses of Greek language, athletic activities).
Due to the exponentially increasing needs, METAdrasi has been called to cover the needs of the escort of unaccompanied minors which lies within the framework of Dublin III Convention (from the accommodation center t o the airport or another accommodation center – usually in the capital- for a few-days stay before the reunification of the minor with his family) and the transfer of minors from remote accommodation centers to either health facilities or to the Asylum Service in Attiki.
With the opening of the Regional Asylum Office in the summer of 2013 and due to the serious needs created by the significant number of homeless children in Athens, METAdrasi proceeded in appointing a permanent representative at the Asylum Office with the aim of:
a) informing the minors as to their eligibility to stay in accommodation facilities
b) contacting health facilities on behalf of the minors and realizing the necessary missions for escorting, for the conduction of the required medical tests
Our Missions for Escorting in Numbers
From May 2011 to the end of September 2016, in cooperation with the National Centre for Social Solidarity, the Ministry for Providence and Social Solidarity, the Police Directorates and the Public Prosecutor’s Offices, METAdrasi has realized over 1,000 missions for the safe transfer of more than 4,100 minors who were either held in detention centers or they were homeless, to accommodation centers around Greece.
Problems with Sponsorship
Sometimes, delays in the payment of grants create multiple problems in the realization of the escorting missions. These problems arise due to the costly nature of transportation (air and ferry tickets, renting of vehicles for big groups e.t.c.) and of the nutrition of the minors and their escorts. For instance, in the winter of 2015, the lack of funding liquidity posed some serious obstacles, resulting in the need of appealing to the public for financial support. From May 2014, the escorting missions of unaccompanied minors from border regions are being sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while those from other regions of Greece continue to be realized with our own resources and the support of sponsors and individual donors.