In December 2019 I worked as a volunteer in the Moria refugee camp in Lesbos. I was deeply moved by the horrific conditions in which the refugees live. I was particularly concerned about the many unattended minors who are often traumatised, left to themselves and in constant danger of being abused or attacked in the camp. For these minors we would like to be a ray of hope, a safe place, an information resource and a first point of contact. We aim to help refugees in their asylum procedure and provide rapid and competent emergency aid where needed. For years Hans Rosenberg has worked as a supervisor and caregiver in the Swiss federal asylum centre and thus knows the difficulties that minors face on their flight. He also knows how important safe havens are for these minors. The surprising response from the Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter to our demand once more confirmed how urgent and crucial it is to provide assistance to unattended minors in the transfer of information.
As always it's the most vulnerable that suffer the most
It’s the unattended minors between 13-17 who live in Moria completely on their own who are exposed to all sorts of abuse.
At present a couple of small Greek islands get the brunt of the refugee crisis in the Middle East. One of them is Lesbos where 15'000 refugees live jammed together. Between 500-600 of them are unattended minors that have been travelling on their own for weeks or even months. Those are the most vulnerable refugees who suffer the most from the unbearable conditions in Moria. Although entitled to a quick asylum procedure, they often miss important appointments with the authorities as nobody knows their whereabouts. This was confirmed to Ray of Hope by our Federal Councillor, Karin Keller-Suter as she wrote:
“…during registration unattended minors have to inform the Greek authorities if they have relatives in Switzerland. Unfortunately, this transfer of information doesn’t always happen and that’s maybe where Ray of Hope might play a vital part in facilitating communication. Without reference to relatives in Switzerland the Greek authorities will not take any steps towards family reunification. As of now, relatives in Switzerland of unattended minors are exceptionally authorised to turn to the department of Migration to request a family reunification.”
For these children Ray of Hope wants to be a place of refuge and provide them with important information about the process of seeking asylum and family reunification.
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