Around 1,000 migrant children from war-torn regions are struggling to survive in Greece, where there is a “systematic” failure to protect them, global lobby group Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
“Greece completely fails to protect these children,” HRW children’s rights researcher Simone Troller said in a statement.
“Instead of making sure they’re being cared for, officials leave them living on the street without any assistance whatsoever,” she said.
In a 111-page report titled Left to Survive: Systematic Failure to Protect Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Greece released at a press conference, HRW said the children faced a daily fight for survival in Greece and had “close to zero” chances of seeking asylum.
The report documents alleged abuses at the hands of Greek officials including coast guards, regular police and port police officers, noting that even girls as young as 10 are routinely detained and often held with adults.
“They took us out and beat us,” said 16-year-old Jafar F. from Afghanistan, alleging ill-treatment by port police in Patras. “I was thrown inside the sea, taken out and beaten, thrown into the water again, taken out and beaten again.”
“These children find themselves trapped in Greece,” Troller said. “They don’t receive state assistance, they can’t leave the country legally, they are without regular status in Greece and they can’t return home ... they work in dangerous and exploitative jobs, they beg, and they live in squalid places or sleep in parks.”