The Greek Council for Refugees found numerous violations of children's rights in its report on the situation of unaccompanied children and young people, who have applied for asylum at the detention centre in the village Filakio, Orestiada within one year.
The report was presented within the campaign "No child behind bars - End Immigration Detention of Children», coordinated by the Australian organization International Detention Coalition, which focused in June on the situation in Greece.
From March 2011 to March 2012 a total of 572 children and young people have been living squeezed 55 to 65 people on average in a cell designed for 40 people without sufficient and adequate food (eg milk, fruit, hot drink), in dirty, unhygienic conditions, in snow and heat, without going out in the fresh air and with no connection to the outside world.
The right to privacy, health and vital needs, provided by the Greek legislation have not been met, and medical care has been provided by the "Doctors without Borders", who together with the NGO "Arsis" and the Greek Council for Refugees, have shared the large volume of assistance needed for the situation in the region.
As a result of the conditions in Filakio, refugee children and young people are suffering from various ailments such as dermatitis, colds, fever, gastroenteritis (they drink water from the tap to the toilet in the cell) and with regard to their mental state, they are overcome by fear, insecurity, disorientation, phobias and stress.
Most of the unaccompanied children and young people, arriving in Evros after a long and difficult journey, during which they are often separated from other family members, come from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria and Iran. In addition to the inadequate conditions of detention here they are faced with a burdensome legislation.
Although they are still children, they are treated as "illegal immigrants", as stated in the report of the Greek Council for Refugees, and have no legal representation. On the one hand, they are not subject to deportation, while the circumstances and reasons that led them here have not been found out, but on the another hand "deportation decisions are issued without a special investigation, and act as the legal basis for the detention of all children until their placement in special centres is possible."
For the most part these are youngsters at the age of 16, those at the age of 13,14,15 and 17 years are fewer, as well as those who have come of age, while the unaccompanied underage girls are less than just 1% of the total, and they are aged from 14 to 16 years. Nevertheless erroneous entry of the age is not at all uncommon, mainly because of the lack of a "specific mechanism for verification. Only what is declared by the children is registered, naturally only if it corresponds to their height and development."
Data for compiling the report have been collected from March 2011 to March 2012 by four lawyers and two translators from the Greek Council for Refugees, who have been living in Orestiada, and Alexandroupolis Rodopi during this period, and have provided legal assistance not just to minors, but to all refugees who have requested asylum. Nevertheless, subsequently the 'attention has been focused on the young refugees and they developed a special system for interaction with them."
As noted, the report aims to inform those dealing with young refugees, but also to show what it means for a child to be detained at the Centre in Evros, and to what extent this influences the child’s further development. Members of the Greek Council for Refugees have managed to record their observations in only 8 of the 12 months, sometimes because of bad weather and sometimes "because of the limited access to the centre imposed by the authorities." The centre in the village Filakio was chosen because it is the only one which has a cell only for minors. In Greece there are seven structures to accommodate minors: two centres in Ioannina (Konitsa, Pogoniani), one on the island of Lesbos, a hostel of the NGO "Arsis" in Oreokastro, Thessaloniki, one in Volos and the National Youth Centre in the district of Ambelokipi.