“Don’t Forget Us”: Study Highlights the Needs of Young Refugees and Migrants Stranded in Greece

January 18, 2017

Access to education, healthcare and jobs are top priorities

GREECE - Refugees and migrants in Greece age 15 to 24 have an overwhelming interest in continuing their education, a desire to work and willingness to learn new skills, according to a new report by the global organisations Mercy Corps and Norwegian Refugee Council. The study – Don’t Forget Us – explores for the first time in Greece the needs and vulnerabilities of the estimated 18,000 young women and men stranded there.

The two organisations conducted 17 focus group discussions with 120 adolescents and youth from 11 different countries residing on Greek islands and mainland sites.

“We are bored of our empty time. I would like to learn language and then help others,” one young man told the researchers. “Even if I have no salary I will participate and I will support. Just let our time be full with something.” In addition to expressing the desire to use their time productively, youth also reported fears about safety and violence against women and children, and expressed concern over a lack of healthcare.

“These young men and women are among the thousands who risked their lives to find safety in Europe, but have now been living in Greece for months, often in terrible conditions,” says NRC Greece Country Director Gianmaria Pinto. “Unable to access vocational and higher education, hostage to a complex policy environment, and with little voice, these young people are at risk of being left behind.”

Mercy Corps and NRC also found that male and female youth have different opportunities and concerns, reflecting the diversity of their backgrounds and unique experiences during this period of intense stress. Assessment teams found that while young women often appeared to have social support networks around them such as family members or other women, young men tended to be more isolated and were not reaching out to each other for solace and support.

“At a time when youth are experiencing intense stress characterised by their change from child to adult, being far from home and the uncertainty of their position and future prospects, providing the right support to this often overlooked demographic is critical. We must invest in their overall well-being and provide opportunities for civic, educational and economic integration” says Alan Glasgow, Director of Mercy Corps’ European Migration Response.

The report puts forward several key recommendations for the government of Greece, international organisations and donors, notably (1) consistently include youth across all sectors, including education and work opportunities and (2) facilitate meaningful engagement of refugee and migrant youth in host communities.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organisation powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future. https://www.mercycorps.org/

Norwegian Refugee Council

The Norwegian Refugee Council is a humanitarian organisation working in more than 25 countries globally. For more information about the organisation’s work in Greece, go to https://www.nrc.no/countries/europe/greece/

For further information please contact:

Mercy Corps: Amy Fairbairn, afairbairn@mercycorps.org, +44 (0) 7876 402 811 NRC: Maria Petrakis, maria.petrakis@nrc.no, +30 6988 565 488

In Greece, Mercy Corps and NRC can assist with visits to locations where refugees and migrants live in Thessaloniki, Athens and the islands of Chios, Lesvos, Kos and Leros.

PDF icon Dont_Forget_Us_Report.pdf