A new joint action between UNICEF and the European Union will support more than 6000 refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied minors, across Greece. The €8.5 million initiative will be financed through the EU Emergency Support Instrument, which enables the European Commission to fund emergency operations within the EU.
At a time of harsh weather conditions in Greece, the project will help keep refugee and migrant safe and cared for and give them access to child protection and educational services. This will give them a chance of a new start in their lives after fleeing war, conflict and deprivation, restore resilience and routine.
"This project will address critical gaps in the response to ensure that children on the move and their families are protected, safe and can regain a sense of normality. As they are amongst the most vulnerable and need the most urgent support, we will put a particular focus on those children who are not accompanied by an adult family member”, said Panayotis Carvounis, Head of the Commission Representation in Athens.
There are an estimated 21 000 refugee and migrant children in Greece. Many of them suffer deep psychosocial distress as a result of their troubled experiences and tough living conditions in refugee sites and lingering uncertainty. Many of them, regardless of their age, have been out of school for two years on average. These children have not only lost years of schooling but also a sense of stability in their lives.
"Refugee children, especially unaccompanied minors, are among the most vulnerable persons and it is our moral duty to help them and protect them as much as we can. This is the objective of this new project, which will provide accommodation, protection services and psychosocial support. It will also focus on education, which can help create at least some sense of normality and safety to thousands of children,” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The Commission has identified education as one of the priorities for refugee and migrant children and is keen to support the approach of the Greek Ministry of Education in its provision of formal education.