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The 2nd phase of the project is underway and online focus groups are being completed with (1) coordinators and field workers in shelters and SILs for UASC across the country, (2) mental health professionals of CAMHS and child psychiatric clinics to which minors are being referred to. Due to the prolonged lockdown in Greece (November 2020-May 2021) there was no possibility to conduct live these focus groups. Nevertheless, the online communication proved to be beneficial since participants from various Greek locations (Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Mytilini, Chios, etc) were able to become acquainted with each other, share experiences and appreciate an enriching exchange.

Our research team estimated that focus groups with UASC should not be held online, because it would create significant challenges for establishing an environment of trust and safety and, chose to displace the focus groups with minors at a later point in time, and ensure their live participation in Athens, Thessaloniki and Mytilini, after permission is granted by the local Prosecutor Authorities. For the conduction of these focus groups, our research team has already prepared educational material for the training of the interpreters who will participate in the focus groups.

Finally, given that the results obtained in the 1st phase of this study have revealed that UASC with high levels of distress engage in conflicts, adopt self-harm behaviors and resort to substance misuse or abuse, we decided to include two focus groups with UASC to explore in greater depth the incidents of conflict and drug abuse, which are the subject of two post-doctoral dissertations conducted in the context of the present study.

More specifically, the two post-doctoral studies are the following:

Conflict and Violence management in long-term accommodation structures for unaccompanied refugee children in Greece” by Eugenia Vathakou, Tutor Counsellor at Hellenic Open University, member of the project’s research team

The use of drugs in long-term accommodation structures for unaccompanied refugee children in Greece” by Gerasimos Papanastasatos, Director of the Research Dept. KETHEA, member of the project’s research team