The protection and care of young and old who are persecuted is an obligation of all societies respecting human life, President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Saturday, observed every June 20 as World Refugee Day.
In her message for the day, Sakellaropoulou spoke of “a rare and moving experience” visiting a centre for unaccompanied girl refugees in Ilion on Friday where she spoke with girls aged 12-18 who had left their homes in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia and Congo.
Referring to several by name, the Greek president said that she saw in their eyes both expectation, hope to reunite with their families one day, but also pain, despair and emotional exhaustion. “I saw their need for a home, at last, for a homeland,” she noted. Some are in Greece temporarily, some will leave, but state facilities like these have a mission to help them integrate as effectively as possible in receiving societies, she said.
“The protection and care of children, the persecuted, those whose life and freedom is threatened, is an obligation of every society that places human beings center-stage,” she observed. “Greece, as a crossroads between East and West, a gateway for the European Union, has shouldered and continues to shoulder a great weight, but has proven that it respects human justice” under the most challenging times, Sakellaropoulou noted, referring to the economic crisis and the continuing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, she added, the effort to give these children a second start must be assisted by the EU, and particularly by member states, which must assume their responsibility to welcome and protect a greater number of unaccompanied minors.