Press Release 20/1/2022
METAdrasi Transit Accommodation Facilities: the sole safe refuge for unaccompanied children in Samos and Chios
Unaccompanied children call “home” the Transit Accommodation Facilities which shelter them in Samos and Chios – and they feel it is their home.
METAdrasi, having identified since 2015 this critical lack of accommodation facilities for unaccompanied children at the borders, created in 2016 and has been running since suitable accommodation so that children do not stay in the camps and can be protected directly.
Having recognised the essential contribution of the Transit Accommodation Facilities in Samos and Chios, which are the only available facilities for unaccompanied children, EEA Grants decided to finance them from June 2020 for a period of three years, incorporating them in the support program “Asylum and Migration”.
Since June 2020 and until today, the Transit Accommodation Facilities have hosted a total of 93 unaccompanied children. Of those 29 were girls and 64 boys, originating mainly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and fewer from Africa. The basic character of these accommodation facilities is to be transitional, however either because of a lack of places in structures on the mainland, or due to the pandemic, many children remain there for longer while they are being prepared for the next step, the best possible long term solution.
From the 67 children who have left the structures, 34% have relocated to another European country, 48% have joined family in another EU country, 16% has been placed in a permanent accommodation facility on the mainland and 2% has been placed with a foster family. Every accommodation facility can host up to 20 children independently of age or gender, always giving priority to the more vulnerable groups, however due to the pandemic available places have been reduced in order to always keep a room free to be able to isolate cases of Covid-19. Both accommodation facilities are run according to national and European standards and contribute to the protection of the children from networks of smugglers and traffickers. With the help of specialised personnel (psychologists, social workers and special educators) they ensure that both daily care and the children’s needs are covered.
During the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic the support team for the accommodation facilities had to face multiple challenges: online education, lockdown, social distancing, a dramatic reduction of outside activities, the keeping of safety measures, but also dealing with the fallout of all the above on the children’s mental health. The team, in cooperation with the children, managed to overcome all obstacles, by intensifying the psychological, social and educational framework, and organising creative activities for the children in order to avoid the fallout from the restrictive measures on their physical and mental health.
With the lifting of the lockdown, there was renewed emphasis on developing and increasing outside activities and cooperation with the local communities, so that the children feel integrated into society. Some of the more successful activities of 2021 was the participation of the children in the “Chios Music Festival” which takes place under the aegis of the Chios Municipality, the cooperation with the organisation Save your Hood on Worldwide Environment Day, where the children took part in a beach cleanup, and the wonderful cooperation with the 4th Chios Gymnasium where the students and the children from the accommodation facility shared their experiences.
Support from EEA Grants is particularly important since these accommodation facilities are the sole places in two crucial points of entry, Chios and Samos, where unaccompanied children are safe and can, like all other children, go to school and develop through various activities, until the best possible long term solutions are found.
The “Asylum and Migration” (Addressing urgent needs for the reception and screening of asylum seekers and for the accommodation of vulnerable groups) programme in Greece, financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, was awarded a total budget of 16,5 million euros as part of the EEA Grants 2014 – 2021. The program aspires to contribute to ensuring legal protection, support and care for the most vulnerable asylum seekers, with emphasis on unaccompanied children. The Fund Operator for the “Asylum and Migration” programme in Greece is SOL Consulting S.A in partnership with Human Rights 360.
More information: https://www.asylumandmigration-eeagrants.gr