Children standing at the entrance of a refugee camp in Eleonas, Greece | Photo: EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI
Children standing at the entrance of a refugee camp in Eleonas, Greece | Photo: EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

The UN agency for migration IOM says it has provided shelter and services to over 1,000 unaccompanied migrant minors in Greece so far this year, thanks to a project funded by the European Union.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has announced that it has provided 1,114 unaccompanied migrant minors in Greece with shelter and tailor-made services since the start of the year. As part of an EU-funded project, the minors stayed at 13 hotels - operating as temporary shelters in northern and central Greece - after leaving hosting and identification centers on the islands and in continental Greece. 

Providing housing is a priority 

As of October 31, the majority of minors receiving IOM support hailed from Afghanistan (453), Pakistan (395), Syria (104), Iraq (36) and Morocco (20).

"Providing lodging and adequate living conditions for unaccompanied minors is one of the priorities of the Greek government. IOM, supported by the European Commission, has started this project to provide temporary housing to those who cannot be immediately hosted at shelters," explained Gianluca Rocco, the head of the IOM mission in Greece. 

"The shelters are set up in Greece but the numbers are still inadequate. There is the possibility of guaranteeing adequate accommodation to the children with this project," he added. 

Activities to support minors 

IOM said it is taking urgent action to guarantee social and psychological support to children, as well as mental healthcare, legal support and interpreters. The staff of the UN agency is also responsible for the distribution of clothing and cleaning kits, money and public transport tickets. 

IOM and the Greek education ministry also guarantee that the minors are enrolled in public schools. Since September 2018, 220 unaccompanied migrant children residing in hotels were enrolled in public schools, including 96 in northern Greece and 124 in the south. 

The conditions in refugee accommodation centers in Greece have been much criticized by NGOs such as Amnesty International. The Greek authorities are struggling to keep up with the needs of asylum seekers and migrants, leaving many people - including minors - with little to no support. 

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