Greece to begin relocating migrant children amid criticism
Athens: Greece’s migration minister on Tuesday said dozens of unaccompanied migrant children would be relocated to other EU countries as a rights group described Athens’ detention conditions for minors as "abusive".
"Twelve children will be relocated to Luxembourg (on Wednesday) and fifty to Germany on Saturday," Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told Athens city radio.
Human Rights Watch earlier Tuesday called on the Greek government to release hundreds of unaccompanied minors held in "unhygienic police cells and detention centres" because of a lack of space elsewhere.
"Keeping children locked up in filthy police cells was always wrong, but now it also exposes them to the risk of COVID-19 infection," HRW Greece researcher Eva Cosse said in a statement.
"The Greek government has a duty to end this abusive practise and make sure these vulnerable kids get the care and protection they need," said Cosse.
HRW pointed to government data that over 330 children are in police custody awaiting transfer to a shelter, up from 180 in January.
Last week, a Greek youth support group said it was giving psychological assistance by telephone to a 10-year-old Syrian boy who had spent 44 days in a police cell.
The boy, who was detained in February at the Greek-Albanian border whilst trying to join family in Germany, could not immediately be physically reached because of coronavirus movement restrictions, the Arsis group said.
Greece is sheltering some 100,000 asylum seekers, mostly in camps and in hotel rooms and flats.
The worst congestion occurs in camps on five Aegean islands near Turkey where there are over 36,000 people for fewer than 6,100 places.
There have been two coronavirus outbreaks in camps on the Greek mainland, forcing authorities to lock down both facilities. - AFP