Unaccompanied Minors

Beth Chandler, RTI COORDINATOR, GREECE

Until now there have been 7 Afghan and 1 Iraqi Kurd unaccompanied minors living in the one tent in a formal camp. The rest of the camp is occupied by Syrians. They were moved here under the premise that this would be a safe space where they would be protected and receive priority access to the reunification program. The boys agreed to move to this camp and left the communities that they had been living with where they had the stability of familiar culture and language and older members to give them protection and guidance. They are now alone in a camp where there are no adults from their communities and they are stigmatised as the only non-Syrians in the camp. They are already extremely vulnerable and have been made more vulnerable by putting them in this camp.   

 
 

Every time that I have visited I have seen the abuse that is yelled into their tent by the other minors and the aggressive behaviour that the rest of the camp shows towards them.

They have told me that they are frightened to go to the showers or charge their phones in case they are attacked. There body language and personalities have completely changed since they have arrived in this camp. The boys' that I used to know to be happy and full of energy are now shells.  

On Tuesday, when I came to visit, the boys showed me swollen hands and bruises from where they had been attacked by a group of men the previous day. Both their physical and mental wellbeing is being put at risk by leaving them here. They have had very limited information or communication, due to translation limitations.  

Yesterday 4 of the Afghan boys were moved to Thessaloniki. This unfortunately split the boys up and left them with no contact, removing some of the only support that they had left, but also left the remaining 4 boys in an even more vulnerable position. I am very concerned about the boys' wellbeing as they do not believe they are being protected, are very frightened and are getting increasingly angry with the situation. 

As a result of RTI's intervention, all the children have now been transferred to a safe house in Thessaloniki.