Unaccompanied Minors in Greece

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Georgios TSOBANOGLOU, University of the Aegean, Sociology Department, Greece
Ioanna GIANNOPOULOU, Psychiatry Department (Second), Attika Hospital, University of Athens, Greece, Greece
Greece is one of the major gateways for migrants entering the EU. Even though data on unaccompanied minors (UASC) living in Greece is rather conflicting, there is consensus among all concerned parties, that numbers are high, with several minors remaining undetected, non registered for asylum, and no legally entitled to remain in Greece. The closure of the Balkan route in March 2016 had implications for unaccompanied refugee children, given that a significant number of minors who perceived Greece as a transit country were forced to remain in Greece for an indeterminate period of time.

This presentation will briefly outline the current situation of UAMC in Greece, focusing on the legal framework, living conditions, services and practices these minors encounter. It is argued that legal protection of UAMC does not in reality translate into actual protection due to poor implementation of legislation and guidelines, as well as, due to fragmentation of the services and poor communication/cooperation between the different Authorities that have the obligation to care for and protect UAMC.

Next, it will proceed to discuss whether the existing research findings, so far focusing mainly on emotional and mental health problems relating to UASC’s trauma experiences, have had any implications for setting out a coherent plan to meet these youngsters’ complex needs. Throughout the migration crisis, Greek and international NGOs have stepped in to provide a series of services ranging from accommodation to legal aid and healthcare, some of questionable quality. The Greek State, by shifting its responsibilities to the charity sector, remained the “coordinator” rather than the main actor of refugee and migrant children’s welfare provision services.

Lastly, it discusses the need of exploring UACS’s coping strategies, their perspectives and experiences in the host country, all of which will better inform the development of policies and services for unaccompanied minors.