Greece’s government has been accused of failing to honor a commitment to house refugee and migrant children without families in special shelters.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday said a pledge by Athens to make sure no children were being held in police custody or similar detention had not been met, and claimed over 50 unaccompanied minors were still in unsuitable places as of late December.
This “protective custody” often means police cells or immigrant centers.
HRW said its findings showed 54 children “live in unsanitary conditions, often with unrelated adults, and can be subject to abuse and ill-treatment by police”.
The NGO said these findings had been passed on to the Greek immigration authorities.
It has been a persistent critic of Greek government efforts to deal with the crisis. HRW’s 2017 annual report was very critical of the government’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Greek island hotspots.
According to the EU, 63,000 lone children were registered as asylum applicants in 2016, down on almost 96,500 in 2015.
Greece saw a 460-percent increase in unaccompanied minor applications between 2015 and 2016 alone. Most were from Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.