More unaccompanied young refugees and migrants are ending up detained in unsafe conditions, according to the National Center for Social Solidarity (EKKA), which found 117 detained at police centers. EKKA says the number stood at just two in November 2016.
“Rather than being protected, dozens of vulnerable children are being locked up in dirty, crowded cells with unrelated adult males,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “We urge an immediate end to this practice and for these children to be transferred to open centers with dignified living conditions, where they can be provided protection, counseling, legal services and other basic needs,” she added.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 16 percent of the children who arrived on the Greek islands during the first three months of 2017 were unaccompanied. Nearly all were from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. During the same period, 3,491 unaccompanied minors arrived in Italy after making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing from Libya. Almost all unaccompanied minors that arrive in Europe are boys.
An estimated 20,000 refugee children are currently in Greece and most are accompanied by at least one family member. Nearly a third are under the age of 4. Among school-age refugees 36 percent are not enrolled in any kind of schooling.