22 March 2017

SOS Children’s Villages provides care and education to unaccompanied refugee children in Greece

Athens, Greece, March 22, 2017 – Unaccompanied refugee children in Greece are living in dire conditions— many confined to camps without access to adequate shelter, food, water, and medical care.

An estimated 2,300 refugee children are in Greece, many having fled their war-torn countries in hopes of reuniting with family members in Europe. The family reunification process can often take up to eight months, leaving refugee children to wait in limbo without the resources needed to overcome the traumas they have endured.

“Our priority is to re-unite these children with their families whenever possible, but this can take months,” says George Protopapas, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages-Greece.

He continues, “Some children don’t have families in Europe and others are sent ahead by their parents or caregivers so they can gradually bring over the rest of their families. These cases proceed at a very slow pace, which is why it is so important in the interim to be able to provide them with care, education, and a decent life.”

Since 2015, SOS Children’s Villages has provided 200 unaccompanied children— mostly around the ages of 14 and 15— with housing, care and legal assistance at 3 centers in Greece. One of SOS’s priorities is to ensure that the children have access to education and feel accepted in the community as they wait to be rejoined with their families or be granted asylum if possible. 

“We try to help these children understand that education, sports, and other activities will help them in both the short and long term,” says Protopapas. “The older they are, however, the more challenging it is to get them to be interested in school. We encourage them to recognize that the more education they receive, the easier they can integrate either into Greece or other European countries.”

In addition, through its emergency response program, SOS provides refugee children and families with psychological support, social services, language classes, food and hygiene kits. The program has reached more than 76,000 people.

To learn more or to speak to an SOS representative, contact Stephanie Rendon at srendon@sos-usa.org or 202.470.5182.