Transition to adulthood
The semi-independent living programme aims at the smooth transition of unaccompanied children to adulthood in Cyprus, both through the provision of semi-independent housing and by ensuring access to social services at local and national levels.
Children are among the most vulnerable groups of migrants, if not the most vulnerable. The project contributes thus to the protection of children’s rights, their safety, and prevention of marginalisation. It contributes also to the timely integration in local society.
Unaccompanied arriving in Cyprus are in majority teenagers, 16 - 17 years old. They need appropriate living conditions and a robust preparation for the transition to adulthood in the absence of family support and likelihood for family reunification. As accommodation settings available in Cyprus operate to their full capacity, children deprived from protective settings are exposed to risks affecting seriously their physical, mental, social health and overall security (i.e. risks of smuggling, trafficking in human beings, drugs/alcohol abuse, development of aggressive and unsocial behaviour). Turning 18 often means loss of safeguards, protection and access to services. The absence of specialized response to specific needs as soon as possible deteriorates their situation and creates additional protection risks for unaccompanied migrant children.
IOM Cyprus is responsible for the implementation and the management of the project. Cooperation and coordination with the Social Welfare Services, Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, as a key partner, is essential towards the effective implementation of the project. The Social Welfare Services is the guardian for all unaccompanied children in the Republic of Cyprus.
Cooperation with local authorities is also crucial in order to ensure their involvement both in the identification and provision of suitable housing units, and in the provision of other services and activities, such as access to local schools and medical centres, and extra-curricular activities.