Collaboration between METAdrasi and the Portuguese authorities in the context of the relocation of 500 unaccompanied children from Greece.
While it was initially announced by the European Commission that the member-states would voluntarily undertake to host 1,600 unaccompanied children that live in Greece, today, after three months, the number of places provided under the voluntary relocation scheme does not exceed the 1,100. Out of these places, Portugal, responding immediately to the call, has committed to provide 500, almost half of the total, proving its solidarity towards Greece in the issue of responsibility sharing regarding unaccompanied children.
METAdrasi, right from the Portuguese government’s announcement, decided to support this effort. As early as 2016, a close cooperation was built between METAdrasi and the Portuguese authorities, which resulted in 2017 in the relocation of five unaccompanied children from Afghanistan to the Iberian country. These children had no relatives to other EU countries and were also not eligible for the refugee relocation programme that was in force at the time but excluded certain nationalities.
The reception and integration of five hundred children is a major challenge for the Portuguese authorities. For this reason, in the beginning of July, METAdrasi started assisting them through the provision of know-how, tools and good practices that have emerged from its ten years of experience in the field of protection of unaccompanied minors. In this context, a two-day online workshop was organised by METAdrasi’s experienced executives for the executives from Portugal who will undertake the reception and integration of unaccompanied minors from Greece.
Recognising METAdrasi’s contribution and experience, the Portuguese Ministry of Integration and Migration proposed the signing of a Cooperation Agreement. On July 29, METAdrasi’s President went to Lisbon where she met with the Deputy Minister Cláudia Pereira, and discussed the challenges posed by the reception of five hundred unaccompanied minors in Portugal. Subsequently, and in the presence of the Deputy Minister, the Cooperation Agreement was signed with ACM (Alto Comissariado para as Migrações – High Commission of Migration), the competent body for the coordination of the scheme and the integration of the unaccompanied children to be relocated from Greece.
The next day, a working group meeting entitled “Integration, Education and Vocational Training” was held, attended by more than twenty representatives of services of the Ministries involved and executives who have undertaken the design and implementation of the reception and integration of children. The innovative activities developed by METAdrasi in Greece, such as the Network of Unaccompanied Minors and the Foster Care for Unaccompanied Minors, were of particular interest. And of course, the mission to Portugal could not be completed without a visit to the Accommodation Center of Lisbon, which already hosts the first 25 children that only a few weeks ago lived in the miserable conditions of the hotspots of the Greek islands. ”It was very moving. The children could not believe that someone from Greece would visit them to make sure that they are okay. The Accommodation Center is amazing and the team of the Portuguese Red Cross that has undertaken its management is exceptional! They deserve many congratulations and we are sure that despite the difficulties, the Portuguese authorities together with the Civil Society will succeed.We expect this brilliant example of solidarity to be followed by other European countries that have more opportunities and long experience in the reception and integration of unaccompanied children and to join the voluntary relocation scheme”, states METAdrasi’s President, Lora Pappa.