One of the major gaps which ARSIS found at the beginning of the refugee crisis, already from 2015, was the lack of appropriate Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Minors. Having in mind that refugee flows keep on rising to unprecedented levels, the existing Facilities could offer accommodation only to a few hundred minors, when thousands more were waiting for an accommodation or being on homeless status or in “protective custody” which in our country means, unfortunately, detention in absolutely inappropriate conditions for minors at Police Stations.
ARSIS, trying to contribute and respond to this significant issue, presented, in 2016, a new idea: the creation of “Safe Zone”, i.e. special hosting areas for unaccompanied minors within camps. The idea was accepted for the first time in 2016 and with the support of the international organization Save the Children the first “pilot” implementation of this new model was made by Arsis to Refugees Reception Centre of Diavata, Thessaloniki. After that, it was established and expanded.
Today, ARSIS, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM Greece) offers 520 accommodation openings for unaccompanied minors, through:
1. Eight (8) Safe Zones, with a capacity of 30 children each, and
2. Five (5) Emergency Provisional Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Minors in hotels that have been hired and properly arranged, with the capacity of 35 children each.
In every Shelter all the necessary services and items are provided for the normal and natural development of the beneficiaries: total coverage of their nutritional and material needs (meals, snacks, clothes, footwear, school supplies, activities material, coverage of public transportation costs, telecommunication costs etc.). Also, their medical needs are covered, their integration in school is encouraged, as well as their participation in various educational, recreational and athletic activities, while minors are psychosocially and legally supported by the scientific ARSIS staff.
3. Mobile Unit for Child Protection for Unaccompanied Minors in Thrace (Θράκη). The aim of this action is to support unaccompanied minors who are detained in Reception and Identification Centre in Fylakio village at Evros and in similar places of the wider Region of Thrace.
The services provided include a wide information about the Greek and European context, counselling and legal aid, psychological support, educational, sporting and recreational activities, as well as the provisional hygiene products and clothes, while the referral to appropriate Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Minors is initiated.