UNICEF receives G0-ahead to scale up its response to the migration crisis in Greece

 

UNICEF receives G0-ahead to scale up its response to the migration crisis in Greece

On 26 February, (foreground, right) UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri chats with 7-year-old student Fifaliana Raholinirina in a class at a public primary school in Ampangabe Village in Analamanga Region.

From 24 to 28 February 2015, internationally acclaimed singer, humanitarian and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri visited Madagascar to review UNICEF-supported programmes and to draw added attention to the considerable challenges and constraints faced by the country’s vulnerable children and families. Madagascar is slowly emerging from a protracted and debilitating political crisis and the ensuing economic decline. The country remains one of the world’s poorest: 91 per cent of the population live on less than US $2.00 a day, and many of the poorest are children – who have been hardest hit in the crisis and live in extreme poverty. The crisis also resulted in a decrease in public investment in social sectors, weakening further the delivery of basic social services, as well as access to, and use of, these vital services. The health, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sectors have seen significant declines. Madagascar is ranked as the fourth-worst country in the world in terms of access to safe drinking water, and eight from last in access to sanitation. Only half of the overall population and 35 per cent of the rural population have access to improved water sources, with 38 per cent of people in rural areas relying on surface water for drinking; and just 14 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities. Nearly half (47 per cent) of all children under age 5 are stunted – the fourth-highest rate in the world; and maternal mortality remains very high, at 500 per 100,000 live births. The country is also no longer on track to achieve universal primary-school education. The net primary enrolment rate has decreased (from 83 per cent in 2005 to 69 per cent in 2012), and about 1.5 million school-age children

© UNICEF/UNI180013/Matas

 

Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri hails generosity of Greek people and Government

 

Athens/Geneva/HONG KONG, 31 May 2016 – Amid mounting concern over a fresh surge in the number of refugees and migrants bound for Europe, UNICEF is adjusting its strategy in support of the response by the authorities and civil society in Greece, where the humanitarian and longer-term needs of more than 22,000 children are growing.

The crisis was the focus of a visit to Greece by Ms Nana Mouskouri, acclaimed singer, humanitarian and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.

Speaking after visiting refugee centres in Athens, Ms Mouskouri said she had been very moved by what she had seen and the refugees’ stories she had heard.

“These are very vulnerable people – children, women and men as well. They are very fragile. I see also on the other side that the Greek people are always very generous, and they are there to help.”

Currently, UNICEF-supported projects in Athens include a drop-in centre for refugee and migrant women and children, operated in partnership with the local NGO Faros, and a mobile child protection unit in the port of Piraeus run with another Greek NGO, Solidarity Now.

Following a series of meetings with senior Government officials, Ms Poirier underlined UNICEF’s determination to support the work being done for refugees and migrants by the Government and other partners, even at a time of acute national economic austerity.

“UNICEF is very proud to be part of this national mobilisation. Greece is doing a lot and we are here to support these efforts. Our focus on children that are really the most vulnerable is welcome and appreciated, with Early Childhood Development for very young children, education, vaccination and child protection as our priorities,” Ms Poirier said.

She said that UNICEF was also placing particular attention to the protection needs of the most vulnerable children, and those who arrive unaccompanied, complementing the work of EKKA, the National Centre for Social Solidarity. There are currently an estimated 2,000 unaccompanied and separated refugee or migrant children in Greece.

“A lot needs to be done,” Ms Poirier added. “The focus on children needs to be taken to the next level.”

After visiting the refugee hospitality centre of Kara Tepe on the island of Lesvos, Ms Poirier paid particular tribute to the work of the local Municipality and the centre’s manager, Stavros Mirogiannis, to create a well-structured and harmonious centre for refugee families.

More than one million refugees and migrants have passed through Greece since January 2015, making the country one of the most important entry points into Europe. Most arrive having survived hazardous seas crossings from Turkey.

Since the implementation of new border restrictions in the Balkans and the recent EU-Turkey agreement at least 54,000 refugees and migrants have been left stranded in Greece.

The humanitarian needs of this refugee and migrant population are growing, with families in need of safe and decent shelter, basic support and health services. Many refugee and migrant children have been out of school for months or even years, and require access to education. Children who are unaccompanied or have become separated from their families are at particular risk of exploitation and abuse.