The Greek island of Tilos in the Dodecanese archipelago has recently opened its arms to welcome refugee children and their families in a gesture highlighting the Greek philoxenia.
Eleven young students from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Palestine, and Sudan joined local children in the small primary school of the island.
Currently, Tilos hosts 25 asylum seekers, of whom 17 are children, and eight are parents. The families live in apartments on the island, under a program run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in cooperation with NGOs and municipalities across the country, with funding from the European Commission.
This is the fourth year that the municipality of Tilos hosts asylum seekers.
The mayor of Tilos, Maria Kamma-Aliferi says that one-third of the children at the primary school are now refugees. “The whole island welcomed them and their integration into the local community was exemplary.
“We receive love from these people. We want these people to be happy, especially the children.”
As Kamma explains, “through the program we want the refugees to get to know our island, to be able to find a job and to be integrated, to stay here.
“This is what my relatives did when they became economic immigrants to America,” she added.
Since 2016, when the ESTIA program started, about 70,000 people have been hosted in Greece.
Currently, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 22,000 refugees and asylum seekers are being housed in apartments in 21 cities across Greece as part of the program.
Related: Tilos, Greece’s First Energy-Self-Sufficient Island
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