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Civil society denounces killing of unaccompanied child in Moria

Joint Statement: Greece - Civil society denounces killing of unaccompaniedchild in Moria

Athens, Geneva and London, 27 August2019,

The World organization against torture (OMCT),Refugee Rights Europe (RRE) and the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) are shocked bythe stabbing to death of a 15-year-old Afghan boy and the serious injuries oftwo other teenage boys after a fight on 24 August 2019 at the Moria reception andidentification centre (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Expressing its shock, UNHCR also described the inhuman and degrading conditions in "the safearea at the Moria Reception and Identification Centre, RIC, hosting nearly 70unaccompanied children, but with more than 500 other boys and girls staying invarious parts of the overcrowded facility without a guardian and exposed toexploitation and abuse”; some of them are accommodated with unknown adults.

In June 2019, the OMCT, RRE and the GHM,together with 9 other NGOs, submitted a joint report to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT), expressing grave concern about the situation of unaccompanied childrenin the hotspot of Moria, where they spend on average five months before theycan move to the mainland. There is an acute lack of availablecare, particularly mental healthcare, coupled with pervasive substance abuseamongst children, who are often experiencing severe trauma. An anonymous organizationdescribes the conditions for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) inMoria: “The overall situation for unaccompanied minors is alarming. The livingconditions in the shelters are substandards and supervision is minimal and not24/7”. A serious lack of health care specialists has been reported, as well as ahuge shortage of social workers and capable caregivers for children., Only onepsychologist, two coordinators and two nurses are present for more than 300 children,and only until mid-afternoon. In addition, the police is the only point ofcontact for the children, but they are not trained to deal with children,especially traumatized children, and do not speak their language.

The Greek authorities are urged toconduct a swift and impartial investigation into the case, including anyinaction by the facility management or those responsible, identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply thepenal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law. They are further urged to offercompensation to the victims and/or their families as the fight occurred inan official "safe zone," that is a designated as a supervised space within a temporary open accommodation site which is supposed to be usedas short-term measure to care for unaccompanied in light of the insufficientnumber of available shelter places, for a maximum of 3 months.

In this regard, the OMCT, RRE and the GHM call on the Greek authoritiesto respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Committee onthe Rights of the Child’s General Comment n°6 on the treatment of unaccompanied and separated children outside theircountry of origin in taking the appropriate steps “to allow for the immediate release of unaccompaniedor separated children from detention[1],and to implement the CAT’s recommendations following Greece’s review in July2019, to “ensure that children are not detained solely because of theirimmigration status. Detention should be used only as a measure of last resortand for the shortest period possible”[2].

The OMCT, RRE and the GHM echo
the statement of the UNHCR Representative in Greece, Philippe Leclerc: “Moria is not the place for childrenwho are alone and have faced profound trauma from events at home and thehardship of their flight. They need special care in designated shelters. TheGreek government must take urgent measures to ensure that these children aretransferred to a safe place and to end the overcrowding we see on Lesvos andother islands,” he said, adding that “UNHCR stands ready to support by allmeans necessary”.

[1] General commentno. 6 (2005) treatment of unaccompanied and separated children outside theircountry of origin, 1 September 2005 (CRC/GC/2005/6), §61.

[2] Committee againstTorture, Concluding observations on Greece, July 2019 (CAT/C/GRC/CO/7) §23.

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