Save the Children is urging the Greek authorities to ensure today’s evacuation of Idomeni informal camp in northern Greece remains peaceful, and that children are provided with the protection they need during the process.
The aid agency also expressed its concern over a lack of basic and specialised services, particularly for children travelling alone, in the facilities to which refugees and migrants are being relocated.
“Authorities managing the relocation process need to take into consideration what’s in the best interest of each family or child – which is easier said than done in a process where groups of vulnerable people are being relocated en masse,” said Amy Frost, Team Leader for Save the Children’s response to the refugee crisis in Greece.
“Many of the children, especially lone children, have been through enough trauma already, either back home, along the journey or where they’ve been staying for weeks in transit facilities lacking basic services. Additional relocations to formal camps need to be managed sensitively to ensure the process is not adding to their trauma.”
Save the Children is also very concerned about the limited basic services, like bathrooms and sanitation infrastructure, in some formal camps; let alone specialised services like child and youth friendly spaces, and shelters for children travelling alone.
“Authorities managing the relocation to camps and the management of these receiving facilities need to ensure basic needs will be adequately met, before they relocate thousands of vulnerable families and children there,” Frost said.
“For weeks now, authorities have been urging refugees and migrants to voluntarily move to official camps. Now that the evacuation has started, it is paramount that authorities make it a priority to keep families together, and to ensure that children are being transferred to facilities where they can live in conditions that meet European and international standards for child welfare.”
Over the past four months, between 9,000 and 14,000 refugees and migrants have been living in Idomeni camp, at the Greece border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - approximately 40% of them are children.
Notes to Editors
Save the Children runs mother and baby areas, nutrition programs and tent-to-tent distributions of food and items for children in the camp. In partnership with Arsis, Save the Children runs a child-friendly space and monitors and assesses conditions for vulnerable children, especially those traveling alone.