Human Rights Watch, a rights group concerned with the refugee crisis, called on Greece to stop holding unaccompanied migrant children in police station cells. Greece is urged to find facilities to hold minors entering the country and offer them adequate care. The same group announced that the shortage of places to shelter these children had led to “arbitrary prolonged detention in places unfit for children.”
“Police cells are no place for children who have fled their countries, endured perilous journeys and are all alone in Greece,” said Rebecca Riddell of HRW. “Locking vulnerable children in cramped and dirty cells for weeks or months is never an acceptable alternative for kids who need and deserve care and protection.”
HRW advocate Eva Cosse said that minors as young as 14 years were found in police cells. She told the Associate Press that it’s a “gross indictment of the government’s failure to care for these children.” She urged that the children not spend even one more day in these conditions after interviews with 11 children who had been detained for as long as two months in what they described as unsanitary and overcrowded cells where they used dirty blankets and had lack of access to information or even counseling and legal aid. The children had been interviewed between June 26 and July 1, 2016.
Children were placed in police cells as a short-term protection measure, however, as of July 18, an estimated 18 children were locked in stations awaiting transfer.
Data gathered by the European Commission points out that 31 percent of the millions of migrants and refugees entering the EU were children, and minors, making up a quarter of daily asylum applications.