Opening of the Accommodation Centre for Unaccompanied Minors
The issue of the migratory flows management and, in particular, those concerning unaccompanied minors, is emerging as one of the major challenges of our time. According to statistics of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there is an increase of 400% over the last year (April 2014- April 2015), while this year, compared to the first quarter of 2014 for the corresponding months, there is an increase of 800%.
Therefore, there is an accumulation of unaccompanied minors in detention centres for periods that exceed even the three months, as it is not possible to immediately find available beds in accommodation facilities that are filled to capacity.
The Accommodation Centre for Unaccompanied Minors addresses the urgent need for housing of unaccompanied minors. It is the result of the creative partnership between three bodies; the Ministry of Interior & Administrative Reconstruction, through the Deputy Minister with Migration Policy portfolio, Mrs. Tassia Christodoulopoulou, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation which exclusive funded the first period of operation until its integration in the European Union funds, and the Non-Governmental Organisation PRAKSIS as the implementing body.
The services provided at the Accommodation Centre along with housing, are:
- psychosocial support
- legal counselling
- mediation services
- Greek language courses / remedial teaching
- creative activities
- organising intercultural activities
- basic living needs coverage (food, personal hygiene, security)
At the same time, the beneficiaries are provided with medical and healthcare support through the Polyclinic and the Day Centre of the NGO PRAKSIS.
The Accommodation Centre is located in Athens (45, Trion Ierarchon St., Ano Petralona), has the capacity of twenty-four (24) beds, sleeps males aged 8-18, employs 12 people (social workers, legal service, cook and security guards) and mobilizes 10-15 volunteers for teaching Greek language courses, chaperoning the activities outside the facility and assisting the overall smooth integration of the minors. All referrals follow national procedures, as well as EU directives for the operation of accommodation centres. The unaccompanied minors are referred to the Accommodation Centre through the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) after a Public Prosecutor's order and command.
The children hosted have undergone long and painful journeys (having often trusted the promises of traffickers or have been forcibly separated from their families) and become subjects to three main types of exploitation:
- Organ Trade (mainly in third countries where traffickers sell them)
- Sexual Exploitation (international surveys show that boys aged 8-14 years are the main bulk of transnational trafficking, as there is an increased demand from international circuits)
- Labour Exploitation (pushed in the illegal labour market, they are subjected to awful and exhausting working and living conditions).
The Accommodation Centre attempts to create the conditions that will protect unaccompanied minors from all these dangers, by providing a stable and secure living environment, aiming foremost to the reunification with their families. The scientific staff is also responsible for the proper operation of the Centre, the monitoring and support of the minors’ needs and the undertaking of all the procedures related to the reunification of the unaccompanied minor with his family regardless of location, focusing on the child’s best interest.
Following a visit held in the facility on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015, the Deputy Minister of Interior & Administrative Reconstruction, Mrs. Tassia Christodoulopoulou said: "A new modern and organised facility for unaccompanied minors launched today in order to accommodate minor boys. It may be only a small relief for the thousands of children waiting to be accommodated in our country, but it symbolically emerges as a great initiative that became reality with the funding of a Foundation. Given the current funding gap from the European funds, such initiatives, where the beneficiaries are unaccompanied children of war, contribute to social solidarity and social awareness ".
The Secretary of the Executive Board of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Mr. Dimitris Afentoulis, among other things, stressed: “Our Foundation’s constant concern is to contribute in finding solutions that address the society’s multiple problems. The care and protection of unaccompanied minors can only bring together all those who are able to contribute. With the facility we are opening today we want to send the message that Greece can provide solutions to complex social problems, solutions that respect our culture, history and humanity.”
Tzanetos Antipas, Chairman of the Board of PRAKSIS, stated: "We believe that when the future of a child, its existence and development are at stake, the convergence of a triangle is necessary, where on separate sides stand the State (in this case the Ministry of Interior & Administrative Reconstruction - General Directorate for Migration Policy & Social Integration), the Private Sector (it would be impossible to immediately begin operations of the facility without the direct response and contribution of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation) and the Non-Profit Sector (in this case the NGO PRAKSIS). This effort is worthy of support and we hope that the Greek state will stand by it and continue what the private sector begun."
Contact: Evdokia Prasinou
Telephone Number: +30 213 136 49 35