Greece must improve shelter for migrant children

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 organisation said.

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

The EU over the weekend said it would give Greece an additional 115 million euros 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 enrol some 18,000 migrant children in schools from the end of September.