Lately, the upcoming relocations of unaccompanied minors are on the spotlight, but at the same time some countries have accelerated the process of family reunification. One of these countries is Switzerland that has already received 23 unaccompanied children in mid-May and last Friday, another 25 children. A week ago, METAdrasi began the escorting missions of 19 unaccompanied children to Athens from the hotspots of Lesvos and Chios and from Kastoria, Giannitsa and Thessaloniki. On Friday, together with four children that lived in accommodation facilities in Athens and two siblings that stayed with a foster family, METAdrasi’s escorts took all 25 children to the airport in order to depart for Switzerland.
“Every escorting mission is special and there is always a sentiment of joy, especially when we take children away from the awful living conditions of the hotspots. The escorting missions to the airport are the final stage. The children have already realised that what they had been waiting for all these long months, to go to their families that live in another European country, is finally going to be true”, says Maria, one of METAdrasi’s escorts.
Yet, there was something special about these last escorting missions: among the children that departed, there were two siblings, a boy and a girl (8 and 7 years old, respectively) who had found themselves alone in Greece after a dangerous journey. Due to the lack of accommodation facilities they ended up at “Aghia Sofia” General Children’s Hospital. METAdrasi got notified and immediately started the procedures to find them a foster family. The children were in dire need of a loving hug and the warmth of a home until they were reunited with their father who was in Switzerland. METAdrasi’s Foster Care department managed to find them a foster family, the mother of a boy, who took over their temporary care. In the seven months that the two siblings stayed in the foster family, the bond that developed among the siblings, the foster mother and her son, was particularly touching. “Words are not enough to describe how grateful we are to these foster families who host unaccompanied children opening their hearts and their homes to provide them with a safe environment”, says Lora Pappa, METAdrasi’s president.
When they learned that the time had come for the siblings to reunite with their father in Switzerland, they decided not to say goodbye at home but to accompany them to the airport, together with METAdrasi’s escorts. There, just before boarding, they said their goodbyes with tears in their eyes, many hugs and a big promise: to meet again as soon as possible!
We would like to thank Blue Star Ferries of Attica Group, who offered us free ferry tickets for the transport of unaccompanied children, as well as the Asylum Service Department of the National Dublin Unit for the excellent cooperation.