A refugee camp in Greece came under fire last week after the organization Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) reported that police officers there rounded up a dozen children from the camp and subjected them to harsh treatment.
Moria camp, located on the Greek island of Lesbos, currently shelters 92 minors ages 12-17. On June 23, a police officer hit one child at Moria and threatened others after being struck with a stone during a fight, according to Doctors of the World. Authorities then handcuffed and transported 12 Pakistani children to the Lesbos police station, where they were detained for hours.
“They were forced to sit most of the time at kneeling posture with their knees not touching the ground, while, if they changed position, due to fatigue or lack of sleep, the officers would hit them, with bottles of water,” the Doctors of the World report stated.
Later, a Doctors of the World physician examined the children, finding that they were in a state of shock and suffering from physical injuries and depression. Doctors referred them to a local hospital.
Doctors of the World condemned the incident and called for further investigation in a letter to Greek Minister of Migration Giannis Mouzalas.
Humanitarian agencies have described the conditions at Greek refugee camps as “deplorable,” expressing concern about inhabitants’ physical and psychological well-being. Last month, a fire broke out during a fight between the Moria camp’s residents, seeming to confirm aid workers’ worries.
Last week, Doctors of the World has urged Greek officials to safeguard the rights of children living in the camp and protect them from violence.
Thirty-eight percent of the refugees and migrants arriving in Greece are children, according to UNHCR data gathered so far this year. Many of them came to the country alone -- either because they lost their families at home or during the perilous journey to Europe, or because their families could not afford to send anyone else.
These unaccompanied minors face countless dangers and suffer a great physical and psychological toll as they travel long distances by foot and by sea, sometimes dealing with ruthless traffickers. Ιn 2015, 88,300 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU. This year, they filed 2,460 asylum claims in April alone -- just 2.4 percent of the total number of asylum applications that month.
As part of a controversial deal between the EU and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees in the eastern Mediterranean, migrants and refugees are now being housed in Greek government-run detention centers until their registration process is completed. However, aid organizations and volunteers have decried the conditions in those centers.