Politics

Generation of 210,000 children abandoned in Europe

By Marta Rullán

Madrid, Sep 22 (efe-epa).- The more than 210,000 unaccompanied migrant children who have requested asylum in Europe over the last five years are a lost generation.

Their journey to the continent is often perilous and leaves them exposed to human rights abuses, and once they arrive they are crowded into refugee camps where they survive without the prospect of a future. The very authorities responsible for protecting them, instead reject them, and the society around them is growing ever more hostile.

“The subhuman conditions in which they were forced to live were revealed again with the recent fire at the Moria camp in Greece, where 70 percent of the migrants were minors,” Jennifer Zuppiroli, a political advocate at Save the Children tells Efe.

Human trafficking, sexual abuse, labor exploitation and even organ trafficking are real threats facing these children every day, invisible to a system that denies them basic rights such as education and health care, even in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

TIP OF THE ICEBERG

“The most chilling thing is we are certain the figure of 210,000 is only the number of unaccompanied minors who request asylum from a state. Everyone who has not been identified as possible asylum seekers or as minors remains off that list,” Zuppiroli says.

German psychologist Jan Kizilhan, who has worked with victims of trauma from war and conflict for more than 20 years, agrees.

“The number is probably only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

Very few child migrants are granted refugee status and the majority hide from the system for fear of deportation or in a bid to reunite with family members, Save the Children said in a 2 September report marking five years since the death of Syrian child Alan Kurdi.

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