The number of underage refugees who entered Greece alone, without a parent or guardian, shot up 42% in 2019, the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors said in a report published on Monday.
The Migration Ministry secretariat said that 2019 ended with 5,301 registered unaccompanied minors in Greece, from around 2,600 the year before that, according to European Union figures. The largest number, however, was recorded in February of this year, coming to 5,424 children, and dropping to 4,417 in August this year.
The report also noted that accommodation data show a drop of 23% between November 2019 and this August in the number of refugee children hosted in Greece, along with a rise of 30% among those provided with long-term housing.
In November 2019, the secretariat noted, the number of children staying at migrant camps came to 1,746, rising to 1,790 in the first half of February and dropping by more than half in August to 830. Those admitted to long-term accommodation facilities like shelters, meanwhile, rose in August to 1,550 from 1,161 in November last year.
The secretariat, which was established in March, says that one of its key priorities is relocating just under 200 minors who are still in protective police custody and providing them with more suitable accommodation. It is also committed to locating around 1,000 children that have disappeared from the system to ascertain whether they have left Greece or are homeless.