Only 1% of migrant children on Greek islands are going to school

Ninety-nine per cent of the 12,000 migrant children who live in harmful conditions in camps on the Greek islands do not go to formal public schools, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Spokesman for Greece, Boris Cheshirkov, has revealed.

“Access to education is a big problem, especially on the Greek islands,” said Cheshirkov.

He emphasised that the children are in despair and should be in classrooms, but “a number of problems like lack of teachers and transport” have deprived them of the opportunity to attend school.

The children that the UNHCR spokesperson for Greece is referring to are distributed across camps on five islands in the Aegean Sea—Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos—which hold around 40,000 migrants.

Cheshirkov used the example of one family on Lesbos which lives in a makeshift shack with a plastic sheet for a roof to exemplify the struggles that migrant families face.

“They left Syria four months ago when their house was destroyed, and their three kids have never gone to school because they were too young in Syria to go. Now that they are in Greece and at school age, their father Ibrahim, 49 years old, wants them to go to school (but) they can’t go.” he said.

A European Union (EU) report has revealed that over 70,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to EU countries so far this year, a 46 per cent increase from the same period last year. Around 68,000 of these migrants travelled from Turkey to Greece, and many live in camps on the Greek islands.

Now, the 40,000 migrants on these islands live in terrible conditions The Greek government announced the planned closure of at least three overcrowded migrant camps on the Greek islands.

TMP 18/12/2019

Photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis

Photo caption: Idomeni, Greece – September 24 , 2015: Hundreds of immigrants are in a wait at the border between Greece and FYROM waiting for the right time to continue their journey from unguarded passages

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