Fostering a new approach : how alternative care models in Greece are meeting unaccompanied minors' rights : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of International Development at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in Greece are met with woefully inadequate care structures for meeting their needs. Despite the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] stipulating children’s entitlement to appropriate care arrangements, there is a gap between this rhetoric and the reality of alternative care provision for minor refugees. Significantly, institutions are prioritised over familybased solutions. There is also a lack of research addressing the processes of power and exclusion in refugee hosting countries, and how these structural conditions influence unaccompanied minors’ situations and their wellbeing. To address these issues, this study adopts a socio-political construction of children’s rights to understand both how different care models are meeting unaccompanied minors rights, and why these models were selected. In conceiving rights as a socio-political process, this thesis addresses issues of power and agency in the navigation of rights. Tensions between restrictive migration policy and commitment to the CRC will be shown to compromise care provision for unaccompanied minors through conscription to control over care. Despite the overarching structural limitations, young people in this study find avenues for exercising their agency, albeit often risky ones. What emerges is a need to understand both young people’s vulnerabilities and strength, and how they are both these things in different parts of their lives. This thesis presents results of fieldwork largely undertaken in Athens over a six-week period in 2018. A cross-section of care providers engaged in the welfare of unaccompanied minors participated in the study. Also interviewed were the foremost experts in Greece’s child protection system: young people who themselves have experienced these care models. Findings reveal the impact migration policy has had in undermining care provision for unaccompanied minors, and the corresponding tensions that emerge for NGOs looking to address urgent needs and find sustainable solutions. This study recorded that rights violations and risks are occurring. It also explored the barriers and opportunities to expand the spectrum of care options and strengthen optimal care, which were identified as family and community-based alternative care initiatives.
Refugee children, Care, Greece, Emigration and immigration, Government policy, Convention on the Rights of the Child|d(1989 November 20)