Over 40,000 refugee and migrant children and women in Greece supported by UNICEF with European Union funding

23 May 2019
Refugee and migrant children in a classroom in Greece.

ATHENS/BRUSSELS, 23 May 2019 – More than 40,000 refugee and migrant children and women in Greece have benefited from vital education, health, protection and accommodation services, supported by UNICEF with funding from the European Union.

The 22.8 million Euro contribution, through the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO) funded UNICEF’s work in more than 20 locations across Greece since November 2016.

“The European Union’s support has enabled UNICEF to reach the most vulnerable refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied and separated children and those who have experienced abuse and exploitation,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, Afshan Khan. “We look forward to continued cooperation with the European Union, as refugee and migrant children remain in need of ongoing protection and care.”

Key results of the UNICEF-EU programme include;

  • Supporting the enrolment of 11,500 refugee and migrant children in Greek schools by the Ministry of Education.
  • Providing more than 12,000 children with homework support, language and remedial classes through non-formal education programmes to support their smooth integration into the Greek schools.
  • Training 1,200 teachers in 17 cities on teaching Greek as a second language, intercultural communication and children’s rights, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Greek Universities.
  • Training 1,900 front line social service professionals, working directly with refugee and migrant children on child protection, psychosocial support and adolescent development.
  • Providing care and protection to more than 2,500 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, addressing their legal, health, mental health and education needs through targeted programs including in protective accommodation centres in shelters and safe zones.
  • Providing more than 20,000 refugee and migrant children and families access to child and family support hubs, where they can access psychosocial support, safe places for children to learn and play, gender-based violence prevention activities, mother baby corners and legal counseling.
  • Providing 23,000 doses of vaccine to the Greek Ministry of Health to ensure all refugee and migrant children are protected from preventable diseases.
  • Enabling more than 2,000 refugee, migrant and Greek adolescent and youth to express their views, exchange experiences, and build new skills in journalism, theatre production and sports, enhancing social inclusion and fostering dialogue and mutual understanding amongst themselves and within their host community.

Additionally, more than 115,000 members of the Greek public had the opportunity to learn more about the experience of refugee youth through theatre performances organized in collaboration with the National Theatre of Greece, as well as the dissemination of newspapers and radio shows produced by refugee youth.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said ‘’I am very proud of our joint achievements in Greece. More than 40,000 vulnerable refugees were supported with vital services, helping them regain a sense of normalcy. This intervention was exceptional as it was the first time humanitarian aid was provided within an EU member state. This is a demonstration of European solidarity.’’

UNICEF and the European Union also launched two major public awareness campaigns in 2017 and 2019, to promote refugee and migrant children enrolling and attending school as well as social inclusion and integration. The campaigns reached more than 5 million people across the country.

Currently, an estimated 28,000 refugee and migrant children live in Greece, including more than 3,500 children who are unaccompanied.

UNICEF’s refugee and migrant response in Greece will continue to receive support from the European Commission through the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG – HOME). These funds will support projects implemented with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) providing vital protection and education programmes for refugee and migrant children and women, including appropriate accommodation for unaccompanied children.



About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid
The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year.

For more information, visit https://ec.europa.eu/echo/

Note to editors:

UNICEF continues to call on governments to adopt its six-point agenda for action to protect migrant and refugee children and ensure their wellbeing:

1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence;

2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives;

3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status;

4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services;

5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants;

6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.


Media Contacts

Olga Siokou –Siova
UNICEF Refugee and Migrant Response in Greece
Tel: +30 211 2340 297
Melanie Sharpe
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional office
Tel: + 41 (0) 79 834 74 01


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook