2 March 2020 - Greece

Save the Children: Fears grow for children caught up in chaos and violence at Greek borders

Save the Children is deeply concerned about reports that at least one child has died at sea during a perilous journey by boat to Lesbos. Children are among the thousands of people reportedly caught up in violent clashes at the Greek border with Turkey.

A growing number of people including thousands of children are now stuck in limbo on the route from Turkey to Greece, with many sleeping outside in freezing conditions with no access to shelter and protection. By Saturday evening at least 13,000 people gathered at the formal border crossing points at Pazarkule and Ipsala and multiple informal border crossings, in groups of between several dozen and more than 3,000. Arrivals by boat have also increased, placing more pressure on camps which are already overwhelmed. More than 40,000 people were already stuck in overcrowded camps in the Greek islands – about four out of ten of them are children – living in inhumane conditions with reports of deteriorating physical and mental health. 

Save the Children is also concerned by reports that the Greek government will deny entry to asylum-seekers and not accept any asylum requests for the coming months.

Denying asylum is not a solution. Refugees and all of those seeking asylum have a right to international protection and should be given assistance regardless of whether they are in Turkey or Europe. The European Union must take responsibility by stepping up its resettlement commitments and ensuring humanitarian aid can reach the most vulnerable. Now more than ever, leaders need to come together and agree on systems for responsibility sharing. Other, non-European Union countries could also show their support by offering to resettle more refugees,” said Save the Children’s European Migration Senior Advocacy Advisor Karen Mets.

“Children must have immediate access to protection and should not be pushed across borders like pawns in a political game. Border guards sent to the EU’s external borders should uphold fundamental rights, including the right to seek asylum.

“As a matter of urgency, European leaders should relocate unaccompanied children and vulnerable families with children from the Greek islands and speed up transfers for children eligible to join family members in other EU member states.”

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