EU says Greece must improve shelter for migrant children

A Syrian refugee holds his baby as he fills a plastic bottle with drinking water at the Souda municipality-run camp for refugees and migrants, on the island of Chios, Greece, September 7, 2016. (Reuters)

Greece must find shelter for 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children, many of whom are held in squalid conditions according to rights groups, a top EU official said Monday.

“We still need to create 1,500 places for unaccompanied minors, this is a matter of urgency,” European justice commissioner Vera Jourova told reporters after a visit to Athens.

Human Rights Watch last week said migrant children were being held in “deplorable” conditions for over a month on average, with some locked up in police cells alongside adults for lack of space.

“This increases the risk of abuse and sexual violence and violates international and national laws requiring the separation of adults from children in detention,” the organization said.

According to Greek government figures, there are some 3,500 unaccompanied minors in Greece, including over 300 in closed reception centers and another 18 in police custody, Jourova said.

The EU over the weekend said it would give Greece an additional 115 million euros ($129 million) to improve conditions in its migrant camps.

Nearly 60,000 people are currently stuck in the country after several European states further north shut their borders earlier this year.

The Greek government says it will enroll some 18,000 migrant children in schools from the end of September.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48