Greece is under pressure to care for a tide of unaccompanied refugee children from babies to teenagers arriving on its shores.
The reason why so many are alone varies.
Some of them have lost parents in conflict, others saw them die during the hazadous journey or others have simply been sent away to safety alone.
Or maybe not as Shajad from Afghanistan explains:“It was really dangerous there, very bad. The Syrians are always fighting, drinking, breaking glasses, everything, they do what they want and the police do nothing, why.”
More than 3,700 unaccompanied children have been registered in Greece within the first six months of 2016 and many are scared in the camps.
Tacha, also from Afghanistan, felt insecure:“It was very dangerous, there were too many rules, it was dangerous to be there.”
Tacha is now in the relative safety of a shelter for unaccompanied children.
Sofia Kouvelaki is a programme coordinator from the Bodossaki Foundation:“Many of these children came from their countries on foot, they have crossed the desert, they have walked through mountains, they travelled by sea. All these children have either witnessed violence or have been victims of violence, so you can understand the great trauma they bring with them. When they arrive here they are damaged and it is very important to offer them a therapeutic, healthy and joyful environment.”
Fortis Parthenidis is a social worker at the shelter: “We start with the basics to make them understand that we are not the police, that they are free, that they have an opportunity for a new beginning, that they will go to school and they have the right to do activities outside the school.”
The UN understands the vulnerability of the children and is working to ensure the kids turning up Greece are offered a better future Giovanni Lepri is from the UNHCR:“Not having their parents, they are automatically in a situation of higher risk. They are very much exposed to possible exploitations and possible situation of continuing violence and need protection, they need all the system of assistance and support and plans for supporting their future, which are demanding, complex and of highest priority, compared to other populations and groups that might be vulnerable.”
Three Hundred and five children are in detention in the Amygdaleza camp, and in many police stations across the country.
There they are confined with adults and exposed to danger and trauma.
Euronews reporter Akis Tatsis says:
“Unaccompanied children are the most heart breaking aspect of the refugee crisis. Hard working professional bodies are urging the international community to do more to help these unfortunate children.”