Irene Agapidaki: "In this role every case is unique. It is imperative to be out in the field"

In her interview in the Newspaper “Thema” on Sunday, Dr Irene Agapidaki, Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minorstalks about the issue of migrant and refugee children that come to Greece alone.

She explains the difficulties these children face and the complexity of her role:

"This role is not only about policy-making. It is imperative to be out in the field as every case is unique. No model or framework can work for everything. There is a lot of pain and every time the pain is different.”

“I remember a little boy six years old, one of the first of the relocation program, that was about to leave Greece to be reunited with his mother. Whereas all the children were happy to go into the airplane, the little boy was completely detached. It is not easy. The boy had experienced things that couldn’t instantly be erased just by going back to his family.

Dr Agapidaki states that it is very important for her to offer as much as possible during her time of service:  “we must build something that is enduring and do as much as possible during our time of service.”

Since she was appointed Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, the accommodation positions in special facilities for unaccompanied minors have increased by 50%, and in combination with the relocation program, unaccompanied minors have been moved from the islands to special facilities. Further, protective custody of unaccompanied minors in police stations has been ceased by law.

However, Dr Agapidaki notes that it is impossible for Greece, as it would be impossible for any country, to accommodate and provide care to disproportionate large numbers of unaccompanied minors. It is crucial that there is a common European management system and a permanent relocation and solidarity scheme in place for unaccompanied minors as foreseen by the new European pact for migration and asylum.

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