An NGO helping migrant and refugee children in Greece has won the world’s biggest annual humanitarian award.
Metadrasi received the $2m (£1.6m) Hilton humanitarian prize for its “innovative approach to welcoming refugees and protecting unaccompanied minors”, the Conrad N Hilton Foundation said.
It said Metadrasi was founded in 2009 with the aim of safeguarding the rights of people displaced by war or persecution. It placed particular emphasis on minors who had reached Greece alone either because they had lost or been separated from parents along the way.
The NGO has a permanent presence at all key entry points to Greece and acts as a safety net for unaccompanied children, transporting them from detention centres to suitable accommodation, finding guardians and placing them in foster care or in conditions of supported independent living. It employs 350 interpreters and has helped more than 12,000 minors.
Metadrasi’s founder, Lora Pappa, said of the award: “It will enable us to strengthen our advocacy and help us be heard. This is an ongoing crisis. We are so grateful to receive the prize at a time when urgent needs regarding the refugee situation continue to emerge.”
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, estimates there are 80,000 people stranded in Greece, including 4,100 unaccompanied children.
On Lesbos, the eastern Aegean isle once at the centre of the crisis, 9,000 people are detained in a camp meant to house a third of that number.
This month Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, raised the prospect of as many as 35,000 people a day crossing into Europe.