How do we respond to the phenomenon of absconding of unaccompanied minors from shelters in Greece?

FAROS

The Results of the research conducted by five organizations were presented today in a Joint Press Conference

In recent years in Greece, there has been a high rate of unaccompanied minors absconding from shelters. Data from the Greek authorities show that in the years 2012 to 2016 between 13% and 33% of unaccompanied minors absconded within the first 24 hours or arriving to a shelter. Despite high rates of absconding, little is known about this phenomenon and the unaccompanied minors’ own experiences of leaving shelters in Greece.

Today, the five partner organizations that implemented the program “Following their Footsteps“, presented the results of a major research that was carried out within the framework of the program at a joint Press Conference, organized in Athens city centre. The program “Following their Footsteps” was initiated in 2016 and was completed today; this program was a joint effort of five Civil Society organizations: FAROS, SolidarityNow, Merimna, CivisPlus and Vavel and funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM).

The main objective of this research was to examine the reasons that lead unaccompanied minors leaving their hospitality shelters in Greece.

The objectives of the program were:

– to strengthen the systematic identification and registration of unaccompanied and separated minors living under difficult conditions,

– to provide a holistic care and hospitality through an alternative to detention or life on the streets

– to reduce the phenomenon of absconding from accommodation structures.

What are unaccompanied minors’ motives for absconding?

What is the situation in Greece today?

To study the phenomenon, a research, entitled “Children on the Run-Experiences of unaccompanied minors leaving shelters in Greece“, was conducted by FAROS. The survey’s results, which is the first one regarding absconding, respond to a series of frequently asked questions and at the same time make recommendations to the caregivers of shelters as well as to other stakeholders in order to advocate for a common policy that will reduce the phenomenon. The main reasons for minors leaving shelters in Greece are:

– looking for a better future,

– expectations from relatives to continue the journey,

– delays in procedures and referrals, but also:

– lack of safety and disagreements on rules in the shelter and

– lack of inclusive services and poor condition in the shelter.

“This program was only the beginning of a series of actions aiming to reduce the phenomenon of absconding and provide decent living conditions for unaccompanied minors in the country. Knowing why and making recommendations are one step closer to the cope with the phenomenon”, said Kenneth Brant Hansen, Program Manager at FAROS.

Find here https://issuu.com/solidaritynow/docs/report_eng, the research and its results.

Along with the presentation of the research results during the joint Press Conference in the Stoa Vivliou venue, the participants had the opportunity to attend the exhibition held at the same venue with pictures from children’s everyday life who are hosted at Faros’ Shelter for Unaccompanied Minors.