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Rights commissioner slams treatment of migrant children

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Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Despo Michaelidou, has lashed out at authorities over “appalling” conditions under which unaccompanied migrant minors are living at the Pournara reception centre.

The Commissioner has launched a probe after being informed that 30 unaccompanied children left the centre to spend the night on the streets in protest of their living conditions.

In a statement, the Commissioner said she has on several occasions instructed authorities to improve living conditions of minors at the overcrowded camp.

“However, no action has been taken so far,” said Michaelidou.

Her office has been told by these children themselves that: “At breakfast, they are given a small piece of bread without anything to drink.

“In the afternoon, they are given a small bottle of water to last them the whole day”.

Michaelidou said living conditions at the centre are “appalling and unhygienic.

“Each room is shared by 15 people, with two people sharing one bed, while some children have to sleep on blankets on the floor”.

She added that 300 children have to share two toilets and one shower.

“The children said that every day is the same, without any activities, no schooling, while their anxiety over their future grows.”

Michaelidou said the 30 children were led to leave the centre in protest because promises given by authorities that they would be moved had not been kept.

The Commissioner noted that the children are adamant about not returning to the centre until alternative housing is provided.

She said it is the government’s duty to immediately ensure conditions of hygiene, health, nutrition, protection and dignity until permanent housing solutions are found.

“Spending another night on the street leaves these 30 children exposed to multiple dangers, violating their rights.

“At the same time, returning them to conditions that are not suitable for any human being cannot be an option.”