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Save the Children condemns use of tear gas against refugees and migrants in Lesvos

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Save the Children regards as unacceptable the use of tear gas by police against refugees and migrants, including children, in Moria detention centre in Lesvos at various times yesterday. It followed a demonstration by people held at Moria against their long-term detention and the inhumane conditions in the camp.

There are reports from reliable sources that a number of refugees and migrants in the camp, including 33 children, sustained injuries and many were taken to hospital.

“The situation was extremely difficult to control. However, the use of violence against refugees and migrants is totally unnecessary and can never be an acceptable response,” Save the Children Greece Team Leader, Amy Frost, said. “Save the Children strongly condemns this use of tear gas against children and adults inside Moria detention centre.”

The protest started on Tuesday afternoon, in the section of the camp where children travelling alone are detained, during a visit to the facility by the Greek Migration Minister and a Dutch Minister. There are reports that children set a bin on fire and got hold of a water hose and sprayed the ministers. The unrest then spread to the rest of the camp.

Many of these children have been held in Moria for weeks, even months, in cramped conditions. There have been cases of children’s health deteriorating, as well as reports of theft in the facility where fights often break out.

“The detention of children, particularly children travelling alone, is unacceptable – especially if they’re detained for extended periods of time, in deplorable conditions without information regarding their futures,” adds Frost.

“Children have been traumatised by events back home and the treacherous journey to Greece. It’s shocking that Europe is now not only failing to protect them from further trauma and distress, but is also causing them further harm.”

Save the Children, in partnership with PRAKSIS, runs shelters for children arriving alone in Greece – one on Lesvos and one soon to open on Samos. The shelters are operated in coordination with local authorities. The shelters serve as a viable alternative to detention and provide safe and appropriate care and protection for unaccompanied children.