THEMIDA Legal Intervention Program for Unaccompanied Children on Lesvos
Family reunification is a very complex procedure that requires the intervention of a lawyer to support the child applicant.
Since December 2019, together with the support of the Ngo Together for Better Days we have undertaken the family reunification case of over 100 unaccompanied children who were living until the outbreak of the fire, inside or outside the Moria Camp in very dangerous for their safety and life conditions. All these children on the move had family members present in other European countries. Most of them due to their invisibility they were not even aware of their right to apply for family reunification and the existing deadlines. So far more than 60% of the children supported under this program have received a positive decision to join their family in other European countries.
Our support to them last for months until we make sure that the unaccompanied child has reached the country of destination and lives in safety with their family.
In the meantime and pending their family reunification request, we do all the necessary legal actions to find shelter for these children and gain access to medical and mental health support. We also provide them weekly information/empowerment sessions.
Hundreds of unaccompanied children were living inside the Moria Camp or in the over-expanded jungle out of it on Lesvos island. They were sleeping out in the forest without safe access to water and food. The majority of them are successfully reunited with their families or transferred to safer accommodation, but others still remain invisible, traumatized and unprotected .
‘Every night I think I am going to die’
12 year old unaccompanied boy
Everyday more children are coming, but none of us are leaving this place. It feels like
prison. Can you Hear me?’
15 years old unaccompanied girl
‘I am so happy I will fly. Maybe, I will be able to touch the sky!’
15-year-old M. told after receiving his positive family reunification decision
The child was living for many months outside the Camp into the jungle, without having access to food, medical care and hygiene facilities. He had faced extremely violence, racism and his was in despair. During one of our calls he told us ‘I remember one night it was around 4.00 o clock, some people entered my tent started threatening me and punched me. The reason I left Afghanistan and Pakistan was because of my ethnicity Hazara. From the time I remember myself, I remember being persecuted because I am Hazara. Same happens here.’ The boy has been attacked several times and threatened with a knife. He was completely invisible to the Authorities upon our intervention.
After two rejections, due to the reason that his application was considered overdue, and several legal reports, Austrian Authorities accepted eventually his application and the child travelled during June to Austria to be reunited with his brother.
‘I am only dreaming the moment I will meet my brother again. I feel so alone and afraid here;’
Unaccompanied minor, 15 years old, living in a tent in the jungle outside of Moria Refugee Camp
The 15 years old boy from Afghanistan was living for more than five months in a tent in the jungle of Moria exposed to countless risks. The only wish he had was to leave this place and be reunited with his brother in Norway. As the child told us: ‘I feel so afraid here. I have nightmares every night. I am afraid even to visit the toilet.’ Maybe someone will attack me.’ DCI Greece supported the minor with his family reunification application, and managed to overcome the first rejection that was received from the Norwegian Authorities. In late February the positive decision was received and the boy is now ready to travel.
‘Τhe thought of me get reunited with my brother is the only thing that keeps me going’
Unaccompanied minor 14 years old, living in the jungle outside of Moria Refugee Camp
For 7 months the unaccompanied boy was living in the jungle of Moria, inside a tent, with no easy access to food and water. When we met him, he told us the thought of me get reunited with my brother in Sweden is the only thing that keeps me going’. DCI Greece started working on his family reunification request. At first instance, a negative decision received from the Sweden. Our legal team started following –up on the case with legal reports and communications and finally in February a positive decision reached our Helpdesk’