Greek hostel for child refugees saved from closure

03 February 2017

USPG/LEAH GORDON

Waiting: refugees pictured close to the Macedonian border in Greece, last summer

Waiting: refugees pictured close to the Macedonian border in Greece, last summer

A HOSTEL for unaccompanied child refugees in Greece has been saved from closure owing to emergency funding from the Anglican Church in Greece, the mission agency USPG, and Christian Aid.

The Hestia Boys Hostel, in Athens, lost its European funding because of restructuring of grants, but the Church and aid agencies stepped in to provide emergency money to keep the hostel — which houses boys aged 14 to 18 from Afghanistan, Syria, DRC, Iraq, and Pakistan — open for a year.

The hostel was set up by the humanitarian arm of the Greek Orthodox Church, Apostoli, in 2011. Vasileios Meichanetsidis, of Apostoli, said of the young people who arrive alone at the hostel: “They struggle to come to terms with their experiences of conflict and violent displacement, which are extremely raw. So we provide them with support and various activities to occupy their minds positively; we help them have a greater purpose in their life.”

The Senior Chaplain in Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, said that more alternative centres such as Hestia should be established. “The practice of holding minors in detention centres must be brought to a speedy end,” he said. Members of the Anglican church provide English lessons for the boys, and excursions.

The latest figures on child refugees in Greece show that there were an estimated 2300 unaccompanied minors in the country in January, although the real figure is likely to be much higher. Of the 2300, an estimated 1300 are in age-appropriate shelter, while the remainder are in refugee camps or detention centres, or on the streets.

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