Greek NGO helping migrant children wins world’s largest humanitarian award

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A Greek NGO helping migrant and refugee children in Greece has won the world’s largest annual humanitarian award.

Metadrasi received the $2 million Hilton humanitarian prize for its “innovative approach to welcoming refugees and protecting unaccompanied minors”, the Conrad N Hilton Foundation said.

Founded in 2009 with the aim of safeguarding the rights of people displaced by war or persecution, Metadrasi placed particular emphasis on minors who had reached Greece alone either because they had lost or been separated from their parents.

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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 the award “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.”

A distinguished panel of jurors selected METAdrasi,  “The jury’s selection of METAdrasi as the recipient of the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize speaks to both a global humanitarian crisis and the power of local organizations to use their personal experiences and knowledge to develop innovative solutions to complex problems,” said Conrad N. Hilton Foundation President and CEO, Peter Laugharn.

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“METAdrasi is a remarkable example of a nimble organization that leads the charge in areas where essential services are lacking. Their belief that migrants and refugees are a valuable part of our shared future and our shared humanity, embodies the spirit of the Prize and the work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.”

The NGO will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 23 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize including, most recently, SHOFCO, icddr,b, the Task Force for Global Health and Landesa.

“We are so grateful to receive the 2019 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize at a time when urgent needs regarding the refugee situation continue to emerge.”

“This Prize reaffirms the spirit of solidarity which is shared by so many citizens in Europe, in the United States and beyond. It means that the international community is paying attention to the magnitude and the gravity of the complex humanitarian challenges that emerge from the management of mixed refugee flows. It recognizes the work of the grassroots, everyday efforts which are being taken to tackle those issues with innovation and practicality,” she added.