Save the Children starts helpline for unaccompanied minors
The international non-governmental organisation Save the Children has set up a helpline for unaccompanied minors, where they can ask questions about the Swedish asylum system or just talk to someone if they are feeling lonely.
The helpline is manned weekdays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and is available in English, Arabic and Dari, the language spoken by many refugees coming from Afghanistan.
Ola Mattson at Save the Children Sweden says that when unaccompanied children arrive here they often have a lot of questions about how to start their new lives in Sweden and what to do first, and he says that this is one of the main reasons why they started the helpline.
"They have many questions when they come to Sweden: When do they start school? Where are they supposed to go? This helpline gives children somewhere to call to get advice, but they can also call us if they feel lonely or uneasy," Mattson says.
But the helpline also has a different purpose, says Mattson, it is supposed to give some support and comfort to children who have suffered trauma and who may feel anxious or even afraid about being in new and unfamiliar surroundings.
"Some of the kids who come here sleep with their bags next to their beds and feel very insecure. Just having someone to talk to in your own language could be very comforting," says Mattson.
Ola Mattson adds that while they only offer the service in three languages now, they may decide to bring in new staff and add more languages later should the need arise. He says that it is still difficult to know how many children will actually use the service, as anonymous helplines are not very common in the Middle-East.
"It's more of a Nordic phenomenon that you can call a phone number and get help anonymously. It's important for us to stress that these phone calls are anonymous and that we don't register anyone or have any direct ties with the government," Mattson says.