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An EU-backed project keeps thousands of migrant children safe and off the streets

Almost 5,000 unaccompanied minors were rescued from the streets or from unsuitable living conditions and found a safe place to stay, thanks to the National Emergency Response Mechanism (NERM) for the protection of unaccompanied minors. This EU backed programme was put in place to trace, register, and provide emergency accommodation to unaccompanied migrant children in precarious living conditions or homelessness in Greece. Supported by the EU, in collaboration with the UNHCR, the EUAA, and the IOM, the programme was recently extended and will pursue its activity until April 2025 with the help of the bilateral Swiss Greek Cooperation Agreement.

This innovative mechanism was launched by the Greek authorities in April 2021, as part of a comprehensive approach for the reception and protection of unaccompanied minors. By early 2022, the programme had under its protection 618 boys and 50 girls originating mainly from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Now, it has effectively contributed to the early detection and safe accommodation of almost 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children in total.

The programme brings together case managers, mobile units, information hubs and six emergency accommodation facilities with a capacity to host more than 150 children at a time. The mechanism is equipped with a 24/7 hotline (or “tracing line”), available in several languages. Once located, the minors are taken into emergency accommodation where their best interest is assessed, before they are referred to appropriate long-term accommodation facilities.

The programme’s work has been recognised as instrumental in helping save thousands of lives since the beginning of its implementation. In November 2023, NERM was awarded the second place for its contribution at the European Crime Prevention Award and Best Practice Conference, a contest that rewards the best European crime-prevention projects. In December 2023, NERM was also presented as a Good Practice at the Global Refugee Forum, organised by the UNCHR on 13-15 December 2023. Furthermore, the EU co-funded programme was also acknowledged as a ‘best practice’ by the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform.

Find out more

Migration management in Greece

National Emergency Response Mechanism hotline | Ministry of Migration and Asylum


General Secretariat for Vulnerable Citizens and Institutional Protection | Ministry of Migration and Asylum

European Crime Prevention Award and Best Practice Conference

National Emergency Response Mechanism handbook

Study on Homeless Unaccompanied Children in Greece

Link:, dated April 19, 2024 4:03 pm

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