Absence of Greek Government plans for islands' unaccompanied children presents risks, a group of NGOs warns
On August 1, the Greek Government will assume responsibility for services provided to asylum seekers on the Greek islands and for unaccompanied children throughout Greece. Humanitarian organisations working on the islands and with unaccompanied children welcome the transition to a Government-led response. However, as the Government has released few details about how this handover will take place and the European Commission scales down financial support for the assistance provided by nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), there are growing concerns over the risk of deteriorating living conditions and diminishing access to essential services.
Nearly 14,000 people seeking international protection are currently stranded on the Greek islands, unable to move onto the mainland as a result of EU-Turkey Statement implementation. Since the beginning of the year, more than 9,500 refugees have arrived on the Greek islands to seek protection in Europe. Across Greece, roughly 1,000 unaccompanied children remain without safe shelter and services. Without a transition plan that is implemented transparently, promptly and in close collaboration with organisations currently providing aid, vulnerable men, women, and children will be put at greater risk, without the health, legal and other services and safety they need and have a right to.
With only two weeks before the formal handover, seven NGOs have issued a joint statement detailing the concerns and calling for:
- The Greek Government to consult with UN agencies, donors, NGOs and civil society to develop and share with NGOs its national response plan for the transition period and beyond.
- The Greek Government to invest in and facilitate the development of more effective and sustainable alternative care for unaccompanied children.
- The European Commission to provide technical and coordination support to ensure that its funds are available, accessible, and used effectively and efficiently to avoid disruption of essential services.
- The EU and other donors to encourage the Greek Government to ensure continuation of health, mental health and psychosocial support, education and legal services on the islands and appropriate alternative care options for unaccompanied children throughout Greece.
Spokespeople are available, for more information or to arrange interviews please contact Tania.Georgoupli@savethechildren.org +30 698 0121497
The full statement from 7 NGOS can be found here.