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Slipping through the cracks of a broken system: Unaccompanied child refugees in Greece

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Tania Karas

On a street corner in central Athens, Shir Muhammad grips his backpack straps and cranes his neck to look for the bus. The block, located near Victoria Square, is packed with refugees and migrants speaking a jumble of Farsi, Pashto and Arabic dialects.

The baby-faced 16-year-old, who cannot read or write, is a long way from his native Afghanistan. In the past month he has climbed mountains and dodged border guards' gunshots in Iran, rode a bus through Turkey, and crouched in a tiny rubber boat across the Aegean Sea to Greece. Now he is headed to Macedonia, the next in a series of countries he will have to traverse to reach Austria, where he knows no one.

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