Welcoming speech by the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance at the Third Destination Unknown Campaign Assembly

It is with great pleasure that I am here today in the Third Destination Unknown Campaign Assembly, an international campaign aiming at protecting children on the move led by Terre des Hommes.

I would like to congratulate you for your campaign and for organizing this Assembly, as well as for your efforts to protect this vulnerable group of children and to mobilize governments through awareness-raising.

The ongoing refugee crisis has brought many challenges with a great impact on people, let alone children, especially unaccompanied minors.

Millions of children around the world leave their homes and sometimes even their families with an unknown destination and are on the move escaping from poverty, violence or disaster. During their journeys, their rights are often violated and many of these children might end up exploited or abused.

The Republic of Cyprus has been one of the destinations of some of these children, either arriving with their families or even alone. Cyprus continues its efforts to provide these children with a safe home, protection and assistance and access to all their rights.

All unaccompanied minors, as soon as they enter the Republic are taken in care of the Director of Social Welfare Services, who acts as a guardian of the children safeguarding full access to their rights, such as basic needs, health, education, activities, asylum application, etc., based on the best interest of the child. The minors are placed in foster care or residential care.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Organisation “Hope for Children” CRC Policy Center for its work and continued efforts to provide high quality services to children.

Furthermore I would like to refer to our close cooperation with “Hope for Children” concerning the provision of services to unaccompanied minors. Since 2013, there has been an increasing number of unaccompanied minors arriving in the Republic of Cyprus. The Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance were then operating two State Homes for unaccompanied children, but identified the need to create more places through the non-governmental sector. Through an open call for proposals, HFC was initially funded by the Government and later by European Funds for the operation of a home for unaccompanied minors in July 2014 and for a second one in September 2015.

The Social Welfare Services have signed a Protocol of Cooperation with “Hope for Children” for the provision of care and support services to unaccompanied minors who live in both Homes. We believe that this cooperation sets an example of how the government and the non-governmental sectors may complement one another in safeguarding the best interest of children.

It is a time of no rest. Children on the move are exposed to dangers and violations of their rights. We need to intensify our efforts to ensure that these children are protected and supported to continue their lives and build their own future.

Source: Press and Information Office.