ATHENS – Thirty-five percent of unaccompanied minors currently in Greece are awaiting reunification with a family member in another EU member-state while 15 percent are living on the streets in Athens and Thessaloniki, the METAdrasi non-governmental organisation’s Guardianship Network for Unaccompanied Minors reported during a conference held at the Theocharakis Foundation on Thursday.
Speakers at the conference included Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou, who said that all agencies, both public and private, must mobilise local communities and forces to support and welcome unaccompanied minors, helping to integrate them into Greek society. “We all greeted the law for the guardianship of unaccompanied minors with relief. Children are unique. They are not numbers or totals, they are not nameless, they have a name. They need individual care and individual integration,” she said.
METAdrasi President Lora Pappa noted the need for close cooperation to protect children that are alone from the first day that they arrive in Europe. “Today’s conference, entirely accidentally, coincides with the voting, two days ago, of the much-needed law for guardianship that is a very important first step. The next steps concern the law’s implementation, a particularly difficult enterprise, to which METAdrasi will contribute with its expertise, tools and especially its experience, to ensure that each child is not just a number but continues to have a name and, like every other child, their ‘own person’ that daily strives for the child’s best interests.”
Other speakers at the conference included the European Commission’s Deputy Director-General of DG Migration and Home Affairs Simon Mordue, who congratulated the Greek government on the guardianship bill, the Netherlands Ambassador to Greece Caspar Veldkamp, who noted the need for good overall solutions on a European level, the head of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s sector asylum, migration and borders Adriano Silvestri and representatives from the UN High Commission for Refugees and UNICEF.