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The exemplary cooperation and solidarity on the part of Portugal gives for the first time hope a chance for the unaccompanied minors

A very important moment for the support of the unaccompanied minors who are trapped in Greece.

During the previous week, METAdrasi escorted five unaccompanied children from Greece to Portugal. For the first time ever, unaccompanied minors, neither admissible in the EU relocation program, nor having any relatives in another Member State, were accepted by an EU country. This concerns hundreds of “other” unaccompanied children who are trapped in Greece and often live in unacceptable conditions, due to lack of availability in suitable accommodation facilities, thus driven into the hands of traffickers.

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The five children bid farewell to Athens, accompanied by members of METAdrasi’s team.

Since June 2016, during METAdrasi’s President Lora Pappa’s visit to Portugal, for the acceptance of the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe, the first contacts were initiated in order for Portugal to accept unaccompanied children from Greece, through the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation.

Therefore, an exemplary cooperation was forged between METAdrasi, the Portuguese National Federation of Institutions of Solidarity CΝΙS and the competent Portuguese Ministries. With the immediate response and cooperation of the Greek Asylum Service and the Athens Minors Prosecutor, what was considered until recently as unconceivable, was made possible for the first time: to enable and empower unaccompanied children to build their future in other EU countries.

“I will never forget the hope in the children’s eyes, when we announced them that we eventually succeeded in our goals. Even we, could not believe it! We try every day to support more than 700 children through the Guardianship Network, some live on the streets, some other in camps. The five children that went to Portugal have boosted our strength to continue with our daily struggles”, recounts Zoe, member of METAdrasis’ Guardianship Network for Unaccompanied Minors, who escorted the children during their trip.

Notably touching is the contribution of Just Cycling, an initiative of the Swiss Organisation No More Walking, through which cyclists from many countries around Europe united their strengths in May 2016, cycling from Amsterdam to London and back, in order to assist METAdrasi’s actions for the unaccompanied children. With their help, we managed to cover the travel expenses of the five children and to support the Portuguese Organizations that undertook their care.

METAdrasi coordinates its efforts in finding resources for the immediate transfer of more children to Portugal.

“We express our deep gratitude to all the people who contributed to this effort and hope that the European institutions and governments will be inspired and will support and promote this excellent example of cooperation and solidarity. It takes courage, perseverance and faith in European values​​”, stated METAdrasi’s President Lora Pappa.

Intensive Portuguese language courses in METAdrasi’s offices, during the last weeks before the trip. The children expressed great interest in Portuguese football.

The moment of the children’s encounter with the Portuguese authorities in Lisbon’s airport. In an emotional atmosphere they exchanged gifts.

The children spent their first days endeavouring in many different activities and experiences. At their centre of attention was football again, with a ball that traveled along with them – present by their volunteer Portuguese language teacher.