Message from Peter Laugharn: Recognizing Innovative Solutions to Support Refugees in Greece
I’m extremely proud to announce that the 2019 recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize is METAdrasi - Action for Migration and Development.
Based in Greece, METAdrasi’s mission is to support the reception and integration of refugees and migrants with consistency, compassion, and the flexibility to adjust to needs as they emerge.
At $2 million, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize is the largest annual humanitarian prize in the world for nonprofit organizations, and has helped elevate the profiles of nonprofits in the countries and communities they serve.
The selection of METAdrasi to receive the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize, a decision made by an independent jury, speaks to the power of and need for citizen-led action as a response to the more than 70 million people who are forcibly displaced worldwide.
With more than 25 years working in the humanitarian field, Lora Pappa founded METAdrasi in 2009, when she encountered crucial gaps in the delivery of basic humanitarian services for refugees, migrants and unaccompanied children who had arrived in Greece. METAdrasi is rooted in the belief that refugees and migrants should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, empowered to exercise their rights to services, and provided protection when seeking asylum.
METAdrasi has developed a host of pioneering programs—primarily focused on interpretation, protection and education—to support the needs of unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups entering Greece. UNHCR estimates that over 80,000 refugees and migrants are “trapped” in Greece, of which over 4,100 are unaccompanied children.
Due to their proximity to the refugees and migrants arriving to Greece, METAdrasi identified a critical need for interpreters who could assist newcomers in communicating with Greek authorities, hospitals and ground staff. Interpretation services are viewed as imperative, not only to convey the urgent medical, legal, safety and security needs of arriving migrants, but also to ensure a fair and accurate account of those seeking and requiring interviews for asylum status.
Today, the organization has 350 active interpreters—some of them refugees or migrants themselves—representing 43 languages and dialects, and has conducted more than 1.4 million interpretation sessions for migrants and refugees since inception. This is just one of many examples.
METAdrasi leads the charge in areas where essential services are lacking, centered on the belief that migrants and refugees are an inevitable and valuable part of not only our shared future, but also our shared humanity.
Congratulations to Lora Pappa and everyone at METAdrasi on being selected as the 2019 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Your organization is an inspiring example of what can happen when dedicated people are willing to take risks and seek innovative solutions for complicated problems.