The Needs of Unacompanied Children Minors in Greece
The increase in the number of children and adolescents who arrive to Greece unaccompanied has abruptly and chaotically increased over the last fifteen years. It is estimated that during the period 2002-2011, approximately 4,000-5,000 minors, many of whom have been victims of political violence have arrived to Greece, under difficult conditions, as “illegal” immigrants. The number of minors seeking asylum form only a small group; the vast majority remain in the country illegally, because of ignorance, fear, administrative obstacles, possible pressures put upon them by the family left behind, etc. The lack of coordination between police and social welfare agencies, leave unaccompanied minors (who are not seeking asylum) often on their own and totally unprotected. Many of them suffer pre-migration trauma and post-migration stress, which may have deleterious effects on their psychological well-being.
The present study examines the discrepancy between existing legal framework and policies for unaccompanied immigrant minors in Greece and their implementation through placing emphasis on (a) the organizational framework of the existing services in Greece (location, how they are financed, kind of provided activities, existence of good practices,etc.), (b) the availability and accessibility of mental health care and specialist treatment for those in need, (c) the accessibility to educational/vocational training, (d) the availability of training towards improvement of expertise of health and social workers in working with refugees, particularly with minors. We conclude that the replacement of “top down” planning of services with ad hoc nature of short-term projects of service provision does not ensure sustainability in terms of continuity and integration into main stream health and social care provision.