PRESS RELEASE – September 18, 2023
METAdrasi’s event “Transit Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Children in Chios and Samos: Challenges and Good Practices” was successfully held on Wednesday, September 13, 2023, on the occasion of the completion of the funding by the “Asylum and Migration” Programme of the EEA Grants. The Secretary General for Vulnerable Persons and Institutional Protection, of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Heracles Moskoff delivered the opening remarks followed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SOL Crowe Advisory Services, Debuty Director of the “Asylum and Migration” and “Local Development and Poverty Reduction” EEA Grants programmes in Greece, Charilaos Faltsetas.
The President of METAdrasi, Lora Pappa opened the event, recalling the period of the unprecedented refugee influx, back in 2015, when METAdrasi took up an important initiative: to fill the critical gap of the complete lack of accommodation facilities for unaccompanied children at the entry points. Starting in Lesvos where the first facility was established with the help of the “Hellenic Initiative”, two additional facilities were set up a year later, in Samos and Chios, the only ones in these islands, with the support of various actors and private funds, being the ones that continue to operate until today. “These accommodation facilities are the only shelters for unaccompanied children who find themselves at the borders. If the traumatic experience of staying in the camps could be avoided completely for these children, this would mean the world to them.” Ms. Pappa placed an emphasis on the real struggle of the Organization over the years to find resources that would keep the facilities up and running, stressing that “if it were not for the EEA Grants funding for the period of 2020-2023, I don’t know what we would have done, how much longer we would have endured.”
Acknowledging the importance of the accommodation facilities for unaccompanied children at the entry points, Mr. Moskoff congratulated METAdrasi in his opening remarks, underlining the significant role that these facilities play in terms of integration of the unaccompanied children in the Greek society.
A key aspect of the event was the presentation of the challenges that arise and good practices implemented by METAdrasi in the transit accommodation facilities, highlighting the innovations that have actually changed perceptions and policies: it was METAdrasi’s insistence on accommodation facilities that would host both boys and girls at the borders, that eventually led to the change of the Operating Regulation of the Facilities by the State, despite the fact that this deprived METAdrasi of significant funding for some time; today, this absurd separation into facilities exclusively for boys or girls has been abolished. Among other pioneering initiatives that were subsequently adopted by the State for all shelters was the “project wallet”, that gave every child the opportunity to have their pocket money.
The floor was then handed to unaccompanied children, who were staying until recently in the accommodation facilities of Samos and Chios. They shared with the audience their own experiences, their dreams and hopes for the future, thankful for the safety, the care and the stability they felt at the shelters, which succeeded their traumatic experience of staying in the camps.
To date, more than 410 unaccompanied children have been accommodated in METAdrasi’s facilities on the islands. While from June 2020 until July 2023, the period of funding from the EEA Grants, a total of 199 unaccompanied children (64 girls – 135 boys) from Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and other countries have been accommodated in the Transit Accommodation Facilities of Samos and Chios.
The Ambassador of Norway to Greece and Cyprus, Lajla Brandt Jakhelln, closed the event, thanking METAdrasi’s teams on both islands for their continuous efforts to create a safe home and a caring environment for the children who need it the most. An effort which, among other things, paved the way to the acceptance and eventually the “embracing” of the children by the local communities.
About the Transit Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Children in Chios and Samos
The Accommodation Facilities provide children with a safe, suitably-equipped space in accordance with their age. The specialized interdisciplinary groups (psychologists, social workers, special educators and nurses) and the support staff, along with the support of METAdrasi’s interpreters, offer children care, cover their everyday needs and provide psychological and social support, as well as health care and legal advice. The daily schedule of the children hosted is enriched with a variety of activities for their psychosocial development, highlighting their skills.
To date, more than 410 unaccompanied children have been accommodated in METAdrasi’s facilities in the islands.
From June 202 to July 2023, METArdrasi’s Transit Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Minors in Samos and in Chios were funded by EEA Grants in the framework of the Asylum and Migration programme. 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