Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday urged Greek authorities to release 276 unaccompanied migrant children detained in police cells and detention centers across the country, saying the move was all the more urgent due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The prime minister [Kyriakos Mitsotakis] should act on his pledge to protect unaccompanied children and make sure that hundreds of vulnerable children are freed from dirty, crowded cells, sometimes alongside adults, where they are exposed to the risks of Covid-19 infection,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at HRW.
“There is no excuse for failing to give these children the care and protection they need,” she said.
As of April 30, an estimated 276 children were in police custody awaiting transfer to a shelter, HRW said citing data from the National Center for Social Solidarity, a government body.
“That is 19 more children behind bars than when Mitsotakis announced, in November 2019, the No Child Alone plan to protect unaccompanied children,” the US-based nonprofit said.
Greek law stipulates that unaccompanied children should be transferred to safe accommodation, but the country faces a chronic shortage of space in suitable facilities.