The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Cyprus has launched a new programme that aims to ease the difficult transition to adulthood for unaccompanied migrant children in Cyprus through semi-independent housing and other support. “
“The majority of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Cyprus are 16-17 years old,” said Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna, head of IOM’s office in Cyprus. “In the absence of family support—and little chance for family reunification—appropriate living conditions and a robust preparation for the transition to adulthood are essential.”
She explained the first group of children has moved into some of the new units already.
The programme known as “Creating Semi-Independent Housing Structures for Hosting Unaccompanied Children Over 16 Years” is being managed and implemented by IOM in partnership with the Social Welfare Services at the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus.
Through the provision of semi-independent living opportunities and adequate protection, the IOM programme will help to promote the inclusion of children in local society and the safeguarding of their rights.
As available accommodation spaces in Cyprus are close to full capacity, unaccompanied migrant children lacking protective settings are exposed to serious risks affecting their physical, mental, social, health and overall wellbeing. Seven Somali and Congolese boys IOM assisted said they felt “feverish from joy” expressing their happiness, IOM’s Xenophontos Koudouna said.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the children will have access to clean water and hygiene kits upon their arrival, including reusable masks, gloves and sanitizers in addition to basic household items.
Information on COVID-19 prevention measures has been provided in coordination with the Ministry of Health, including handwashing and physical distancing practices in line with government measures and WHO advice.
IOM in its work is striving to address individual needs of older unaccompanied migrant children by ensuring their access to education and vocational training, health care services and psychosocial support.
The IOM project, which is being implemented in line with international human rights and child related principles, also recognizes that achieving social inclusion of the children is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals on quality education, productive employment, inclusive societies and global partnerships.
(Photo from website of IOM)