Two special days that filled us with joy: Yesterday, twenty-five unaccompanied children that lived in the hotspots of the islands traveled to Lisbon, the first of the 500 children that Portugal has announced will receive from Greece. Today, another twenty-five unaccompanied children fly to Finland.
Since mid-April, after the first relocations to Germany and Luxembourg, the need to strengthen METAdrasi’s Guardianship Network has emerged once again. With the relocation programme of 1,600 children from Greece to other EU countries, the key role of the Authorised Representative of unaccompanied children re-emerged and METAdrasi’s Guardianship Network, from the 4-5 guardians supported with the valuable help from EPIM, started to number twenty and now thirty guardians with the support of UNHCR and the European Commission.
METAdrasi’s team of guardians headed directly to the islands, on the front line, they rolled up their sleeves and started their work. “As soon as I entered Moria, the children started running towards me yelling in their language “Sarparas – Sarparas” which means, guardian. I didn’t know the children, but they recognised the word “Guardianship” on my vest which, essentially for them means “the person I can rely on”. I was very touched. It was one of the strongest experiences I had in the five years that I am METAdrasi’s guardian”, says Sotiris.
The role of METAdrasi’s guardians in the relocation programme is to prepare and represent each of the approximately 800 children in total that go through the assessment interviews, ensuring their best interest. Following that, they write their recommendation in the final report, the so-called BIA (Best Interest Assessment) that they co-sign with the operator of EASO or UNHCR.
“In the first few weeks we started many times at seven in the morning and continued until late at night, even on weekends. But despite the fatigue, the idea that some of the children would escape the hell of the hotspots, gave us strength to continue. We all did our best.”
As METAdrasi’s president says, “The teamwork was amazing. Apart from the dedicated METAdrasi’s guardians of whom I am so proud, it is remarkable that despite the pressure and the especially difficult conditions, everyone involved, UNHCR, EASO, the executives of the RICs and the Asylum Service, the Special Secretary, they all put the quality of the process, the best interest of the children, above everything!”
We wish with all our hearts for the children to find care where they will go and to feel safe in their new home! Good luck to them!