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Separated children in dire conditions in Greek refugee camps

27 October 2017

On 25 October 2017, the Guardian published a news article regarding the situation of separated children in refugee camps on the Greek islands. According to the article, the refugee camps in Greece accommodate an estimated 18,500 migrant children, of which more than 2,500 separated. Greece faces a tremendous challenge in supporting these children since there is no specific legal framework or adequate public support. Furthermore, according to the article, there are only 1,130 places in shelters due to a lack of funding, while 1,650 children are waiting in camps, reception centres, safe zones and detention, or are homeless. The inflow of children to the Greek islands has not reached its peak, the number of arrivals has increased in the past few months. The camps on the Greek islands of Samos and Lesbos are overstretched, these camps already accommodate more than 200 separated children, which is 170 more than their average capacity.

The article states that, according to NGOs working in Greece, the Dubs scheme to bring 60 children to the UK has failed. Even a child with a severe illness which is difficult to treat in Greece, but could easily be treated in the UK, has not been transferred to the UK. The child even had an uncle in the UK, and therefore could have been transferred under family reunification. On a positive note, according to the article, NGOs in Greece did reach a deal with the Portuguese government to take a number of separated children. However, this is only a small number compared to the numerous children in the Greek refugee camps.

The article describes the severe situation in which the children remain. Many separated children are under the protective custody of the police. Therefore, in the absence of an alternative, these children are detained in cells. The police and NGOs work together to address the detention of separated children by creating safe zones. Furthermore, children have to wait in the refugee camps for a long time, and some children experience sexual abuse or violence, are subjected to smuggling, or are in need of drug rehabilitation. In Samos there is even a strong trafficking network. Besides, without adequate frameworks, many children disappear when they reach the mainland of Greece.

The children, including separated children, in Greece are in need of help. It is crucial that EU governments support Greece in taking care for these children and assist in relocating them. SCEP calls upon the EU governments to assist Greece in addressing the grave situation in which the children remain. In particular SCEP calls to address the detention of separated children, since children must never be detained for reasons related to their immigration status or illegal entry.

Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP) - coordinated by Defence for Children The Netherlands - PO BOX 11103 - 2301 EC - Leiden - 0031 (0)71 516 09 80 - [email protected]