Monday

24th Jul 2017

Greece kept child refugees in 'abusive' conditions

  • Minors in Greece are being held in deplorable conditions, says rights watchdog. (Photo: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent)

Minors seeking asylum in Greece are being kept in prison-like conditions for weeks and months, according to a human rights watchdog.

A report from the US-based NGO Human Rights Watch found that unaccompanied children in hope of international protection face routine, arbitrary detention.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Children face unsanitary and degrading conditions and abusive treatment, including detention with adults and ill-treatment by police," notes the 27-page report out Friday (9 September).

The report is based on interviews with 42 male minors aged between 14 and 17 from places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria.

Police allegedly assaulted four of them. Others have been unable to access legal aid, counselling or interpretation.

“We’re talking about kids who are all alone and who fled their countries, often to escape violence," said the author's report Rebecca Riddell in a statement.

Children under Greek law are not allowed to be detained for more than 25 days while awaiting transfer to a shelter. In some cases they can be kept for a maximum of 45 days.

But the researchers documented cases where five had been kept under lock and key for three months or more at the Paranesti pre-removal detention center in northeast Greece.

The past seven months have seen a steady rise of unaccompanied children arriving in Greece. Around 3,300 have been registered, up from around 1,150 in mid-March.

The shortage of shelter space in Greece has forced some to live "in overcrowded, filthy, bug-and vermin-infested cells, sometimes without mattresses", the report said.

The conditions are aggravated by other member states who have refused to relocate asylum seekers from Greece despite pledges made last September to host over 66,400.

Only 49 unaccompanied minors have been relocated under the scheme from Greece.

A Greek government spokesperson, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Associated Press that plans are under way to build new shelters. He noted that putting them in police stations was "not ideal".

Afghan minors

Most unaccompanied minors come from Afghanistan with many fleeing poverty and persecution from the Taliban and other militia groups like the Hizb-i Islami Afghanistan and the Islamic State group.

Abdul Ghafoor, a refugee rights activist who was deported from Norway in 2013, told this website from Kabul that those leaving to reach the EU are getting younger.

"Young Afghans don't see any future in Afghanistan and most are stuck in Kabul because they can't travel to the provinces," he said.

Around 200,000 Afghans applied for asylum in the EU last year. Ghafoor said those deported back to the war-torn country are making second attempts given the dire conditions.

Germany is sending some Afghans back to Kabul, but those sent back are often unable to find a livelihood in the capital city.

The Taliban are also mounting more and more attacks. Earlier this week, a Taliban truck bomb detonated in the front gates of Care International, a charity.

Suicide bombers had also, prior to the truck explosion, set off blasts near the Afghan defence ministry on Monday killing dozens and wounding around 100 people.

Report: EU failing migrant children

Just under 90,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in the EU last year, up from around 13,000 in 2013. A UK report said many were treated with "suspicion and disbelief" by authorities.

Opinion

Strengthening child protection in the EU and globally

The way forward to ensure the protection of children globally is through a long list of small steps that governments must take to ensure no child in Europe or anywhere else suffers a life of abuse, exploitation or fear.

Austria readies for migrant border surge

Foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to toughen up measures against Libyan migrant smugglers amid Austrian claims it is ready to "protect" its borders from any sudden mass migrant movements from Italy.

EU backs Italy on NGO rescues

The European Commission has said that the EU and Italy merely want to “better organise” migrant rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary