[Greece] Over 40,000 refugee and migrant children and women in Greece supported by UNICEF with European Union funding

23 May 2019
Relief Web

Reliefweb reports that UNICEF and EU fundings have supported more than 40,000 refugee and migrant children and women in Greece. The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO) contributed 22.8 million euros since November 2016 to aide UNICEF’s work aimed at the provision of vital education, health, protection and accommodation services to refugee and migrant children and women in more than 20 locations across Greece. 

According to estimates, 28,000 refugee and migrant children live in Greece, including more than 3,500 unaccompanied children. UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, Afshan Khan stated that “the European Union’s support has enabled UNICEF to reach the most vulnerable refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied and separated children and those who have experienced abuse and exploitation”. She added that since the urgency of the situation of refugee and migrant children requires further attention, UNICEF looks forward to continuing its cooperation with the EU to address and tackle child protection and child care issues.

The UNICEF-EU programme’s success is evidenced by statistics outlining the key results of the initiative, which supported the promotion and protection of the refugee and migrant children’s rights, especially regarding education, health, and freedom of expression. Furthermore, the programme provided trainings to teachers as well as front line service professionals to ensure that they acquire the adequate skills to enable the provision of high-quality support services.

According to the key results of the programme, 11,500 refugee and migrant children received support in the enrolment to Greek schools, and more than 12,000 children were provided educational support and language services to ensure their smooth integration into Greek society.

Furthermore, 1,200 teachers in 17 cities were trained to teach Greek as a second language and to ensure that they are aware of the practices of intercultural communication and the rights of refugee and migrant children. In addition, 1,900 front line social service professionals, who directly engage with refugee and migrant children received trainings on child protection, psychosocial support and adolescent development.

Other efforts of the programme were aimed at providing further care and protection to unaccompanied refugee and migrant children by establishing child and family support hubs, providing accommodation and healthcare services, and empowering youth by fostering intercultural dialogue in a non-formal learning setting. 

In 2017 and 2019 UNICEF and the EU launched two major public campaigns to raise awareness and promote the education, social inclusion, and integration of refugee and migrant children. The large-scale campaigns reached more than 5 million people across Greece. 

UNICEF’s refugee and migrant response in Greece is reported to receive further financial support from the European Commission Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG-HOME), which is envisaged to support projects implemented with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Further projects are aimed at the provision of vital protection and education programmes for refugee and migrant children as well as women, and at ensuring appropriate alternative care for unaccompanied children.

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