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Greece: Protection of unaccompanied children in migration

2021-03-31

Unaccompanied children in migration are particularly susceptible to finding themselves in physical, mental, and social disruption. Terre des hommes (Tdh) works in two refugee safe zones in Greece, where unaccompanied children are hosted. Through our services, we improve their wellbeing and ensure a smooth transition to adulthood.

Our key results in 2020:

  • 97 children were offered accommodation and protective services
  • 207 individual psychosocial sessions were conducted with children
  • 76 children successfully enrolled in formal education and 50 children – in non-formal education

In Greece, there are currently 3854 unaccompanied children (Source: National Center for Social Solidarity/EKKA, 15 March 2021). Some of them live in safe zones – temporary accommodation structures inside camps for asylum seekers, which provide to the children 24/7 protection, mental health support, legal and educational services. In Veria and Skaramangas Safesones, we cater to the basic needs of unaccompanied children and support them with case management services, legal aid, education, and mental health and psychosocial support.

Providing social and legal support

We individually work with children to assess their problems, needs and goals, and then establish and provide the necessary support to improve their situation. This case management process ensures that the child’s rights and best interests are protected.

Our social and legal support includes both direct aid with items and services as well as facilitating access to additional services. To attend to children’s basic needs, we provide safe, hygienic accommodation and other necessities such as food, clothing, personal hygiene items, blankets. Tdh local lawyers advise unaccompanied children on legal matters and represent them before competent authorities.

Ensuring access to education

We help children to exercise their right to education (formal and non-formal) by supporting them during the school enrolment and attendance phases and providing accredited trainings such as language classes in private schools. We also organise skill development activities where children learn about human rights, a healthy lifestyle, food and nutrition. They strengthen their communication and teamwork abilities, acquire craft and digital skills, and receive guidance on how to increase their employability and develop a career.

Improving children’s mental health and wellbeing

In the two Safe Zones, we apply our YouCreate methodology to empower children and young people in migration and support their wellbeing, resilience and social inclusion through psychosocial activities focusing on art. Children lead their own creative projects including storytelling, painting, video, craftwork, and learn to express feelings of hope or distress through art. We also implement the Problem Management Plus (PM+) methodology, aimed at minors 16+ and adults who are exposed to adversity. PM+ was developed by WHO and has proven to reduce depression and anxiety among young people and improve their functioning.

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Project duration: May 2020 – June 2021

Partner: IOM Greece

Total budget: 1,745,767 euros

The project is funded by the European Union through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.