They are the most vulnerable group among the refugees: unaccompanied minors in Greece. 4,800 children, aged 2 -17. A real challenge for those in and outside Greece dealing with their protection.
- 30 percent of them are orphans. Seven out of ten have families in Europe and need to be reunited.
The protection of unaccompanied minors is a major issue for the government, the creation of appropriate accommodation structures is imminent, their transfer from the overcrowded islands an urgent necessity.
The number of unaccompanied children in Greece is increasing: while they are approximately 2,500 unaccompanied children in 2017, their number has reached 4,800 in 2019, according to data released by the National Center for Social Solidarity on October 15.
“This number is expected to increase by the end of the year, as around 500-600 third-country nationals arrive in our country every day,” Deputy Labor Minister, Domna Michailidou said on Monday.
Unaccompanied minors are at 43% from Afghanistan, 35% from Pakistan and 9% from Syria.
1,006 children live in hostels, 350 in hotels, 1,535 live in refugee camps and some of them up to two years.
93% are over 14 years old and 94% are boys.
- From the 4,800 registered children 1,178 are missing. Nobody knows where and how they live.
After registration at the Reception and Identification Centers, these children remain in the safe zones of the refugee camps, they can be placed in a hostel or be accommodated in hotels in various regions across the country.
“In the long run, they will either apply for asylum in Greece or find themselves in another European country if they are reunited or relocated,” the Minister said.
As the National Center for Social Solidarity (NCSR) is responsible for unaccompanied minors, it is currently investigating the possibility of moving as many unaccompanied minors from the islands to the mainland.
At the same time, the Greek government is about to send a request to the European Commission to continue emergency funding for the operation of the hotels.
Aim of the funding is to create 2,000 long-term hosting places in hostels.
Alternatively, the government plans to promote foster care for the unaccompanied minors.
“The Law of 2018 for the foster care has significant gaps that need to be regulated,” the minister said adding that improvement regulations about childcare is planned to initially involve children from Greece and then children from third countries.”
Star TV reported that Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, has sent letters to his European colleagues asking them to accelerate families reunions. Several countries have reportedly responded positive.