Over 1,100 unaccompanied refugee, migrant children in Greece need shelter: UNICEF

The number of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children staying in dangerous and overcrowded reception centers on the Greek islands and detention facilities across Greece, exceeds 1,100, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.

The number of separated children in the centers is the largest since the beginning of 2016, UNICEF said in a statement here.

“This past weekend a child lost his life, and two more were injured in a violent incident in the Reception and Identification Center in Moria,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan. “This latest tragedy is a stark reminder that the situation in Reception Centres in Greece is at a breaking point.”

She said UNICEF continues to appeal to Greek authorities to transfer children to adequate accommodation on the mainland, but noted that Greece cannot support refugee and migrant children alone.

Khan said it is vital that European governments increase pledges to relocate unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children, and fast-track family reunifications for those who already have relatives in Europe.

To further highlight the situation, UNICEF said it had released a short film documenting the dreams and despair of boys staying in “Section B.”

The section is an area meant to provide specialized protection for unaccompanied children in the Reception and Identification Center in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesvos.

The Reception Center in Moria is meant to accommodate 3,000 people, but currently has more than 8,700, including 3,000 children.

Section B, including the adjacent area, has room for 160 unaccompanied children, but now has more than 520.

Currently, there are more than 32,000 refugee and migrant children in Greece, including more than 4,000 who are unaccompanied and separated, according to UNICEF.

Over the last three years, UNICEF said it had supported more than 60,000 refugee and migrant children and their families in Greece.