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Ödos Programme: Protecting vulnerable women with minors

Ödos Programme is an innovative programme designed to help African migrant women arriving by boat to Spain with small children. The programme runs a reception centre for 50 women and children in Montilla, Córdoba, aiming to provide them with care for at least three months. It also offers longer term support to those that wish to remain in Spain, while acknowledging that most are likely to move on to other European countries (mainly France).

Issue/challenge and goal/assumption

General Objective:

To ensure the protection of vulnerable migrant women with minors who cross the Mediterranean sea, through comprehensive intervention and multi-level cooperation.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Promoting an approach which is both gender-sensitive and child-sensitive.
  2. Identifying multiple sources of vulnerability and the ways in which they intersect, including through support with a recovery and reflection period, secondary prevention of trafficking, international protection, and more.
  3. Protecting children on the move by ensuring their rights are guaranteed, offering risk assessments, evaluating the risk of statelessness, and taking care of children separated from their mothers.
  4. Developing the potential for 'scaling up' the programme.

How does it work

Ödos adopts a comprehensive approach, combining gender- and child-based interventions in the psychological, educational, and legal fields. It works to develop a bond between the team in charge of the intervention, women, and minors, with the aim of identifying their needs. The programme also fosters reinforced inter-administration and multi-level cooperation: fluid communication and networking are its formula for achieving the necessary coordination on the protection of these women and minors and for responding to the complexity of their situations.


Throughout the period of April 2018 - December 2021, the Ödos programme saw the following results:

  • 403 people stayed in the reception centre. They mostly came from the Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry: 239 women and 164 accompanied minors (100 girls; 64 boys). The average age of the women is 27 years, while that of the children is 5 years.
  • All women and children took a DNA test, and 81% of the women were found to be the biological mothers of the children they were accompanying. In cases where the result was negative, the women were often still related to the child.
  • 95% of the women and children were registered in the national census.
  • 95% of the women and children underwent a medical check.
  • 79% of the children were enrolled in schools or nursery.
  • 47% of the women stated that SGBV was the main reason they had left their country.
  • 35 women and their children filed asylum applications in Spain.
  • 14 families were supported through the reunification process.
  • 70% of the women secured legal documentation during their stay.
  • 17 families decided to stay in Spain.


An external assessment of the programme was conducted by the Observatory of the crime control system towards Immigration (OCSPI), University of Malaga. It covered the first two years (2018-2020) of the programme. A summary of the evaluation is available online.

Who will benefit?

The primary beneficiaries of this programme are women and children from African countries migrating to Europe, that is to say African women who arrive by boat in Spain with minor children (usually under 5 years old) and accompanied by (women) African minors. In both cases, biological mothers and their children are sent to reception centres together. A child is usually separated from the woman if they are not found to be the biological mother.

Source of funding and Resources used

The programme is led by the Emet Arco Iris Foundation, with significant support from public administrations and private national and international entities such as the Municipality of Montilla, the Government of Andalucía, UNHCR, IOM, the Ombudsman and the Minors Public Prosecutor for Minors in Córdoba.

Private entities working on the programme include: Emet Arco Iris Foundation, Caritas Española, Congregación de las Esclavas, SICAR cat, Profesor Uría Foundation, Spanish Law Foundation, Córdoba Bar Association, the Diocese of Tanger (Nador), Villa Teresita and Karibu.

The annual budget of the programme is 765 000 euros. This programme is part of the Humanitarian Reception Programme financed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration (to the amount of 560 000 euros). It also receives other public (Andalucía, Cordoba city and other Ministries) and private (Religious entities, companies, Bar Association) funding on an annual basis.


Fundación Emet Arco Iris
Cristina Manzanedo

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