Beatings, sexual abuse and exploitation: refugee children on the Balkan route are facing adult violence at an alarming rate, according to a report by Save the Children. On their journey through the Balkans, they are at the mercy of police officers, human smugglers, and other strangers, feeling helpless and left alone. The main reason for this inhumane treatment is the policy of deterrence and isolation of refugees pursued by the European Union and the countries of the region, criticizing Save the Children.
The report “Wherever we go, there are those who do us harm” (https://www.savethechildren.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Downloads_Documents/Reports_Studies/2022/embargoed/save-the-children-wherever-we-go-someone-does-us- harm-report-092022.pdf) (“Wherever we go, there are those who hurt us”), based on interviews with dozens of victims, shows the level of violence and the blatant lack of protection for refugee children in Europe. The perpetrators are mostly adults in positions of power, such as border police officers and people smugglers, who go into the hands of children in their desperate situation on the Balkan route. Save the Children also criticizes the fact that children are housed in prison-like housing where they are not informed of their rights.
“With Europe’s focus on deterring arrivals, children are being exposed to horrific violence by police and border guards – violence that goes unpunished,” says Elva Sperling, Save the Children Europe director. “Children who seek safety in Europe and have a right to international protection are often forced to turn to smugglers whose only hope is to cross borders – and these smugglers continue to abuse them. The EU and governments must act urgently. You must provide refugee children with access Access to safe, orderly and legal migration routes so that they are no longer subject to the ordeal documented in this report.”
While children who have fled with their families are also exposed to violence, unaccompanied minors are particularly at risk. Many are forced to stay overnight on their journey or live with strange adults in dilapidated buildings – at constant risk of being beaten or sexually assaulted. Boys who travel alone are at particular risk of sexual violence. Helpless and without any opportunity to process what they have been through, many children and young adults compensate for their stress with alcohol and drugs. There are also a worrying number of cases of self-harm and attempted suicide.
“For these children, violence is commonplace, whether in their countries of origin or when they flee or in countries of transit – all forms of violence,” says Bogdan Krasik, Save the Children’s Balkan Office of Migration and Displacement. “These experiences can permanently affect their development and also negatively affect their ability to integrate in the receiving countries.”
Save the Children supports refugee children across Europe. Children’s Rights assists with registration and residency, provides psychosocial care and supports children in accessing education. At the political level, Save the Children works to find durable solutions, improve protection systems, and improve laws and procedures.
The Belgrade-based Balkan Center for Migration and Displacement acts as one of Save the Children’s research and knowledge centers for refugee children and collaborated with the University of Sarajevo to conduct this study.
For the report, in-depth interviews were conducted with 48 children aged 13 to 19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, including 30 unaccompanied boys and eight boys and ten girls who were traveling with their families or close relatives. On average, the children surveyed had been on the road for four years.
Materials to download:
A summary of the report can be found under this link (https://www.savethechildren.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Downloads_Documents/Reports_Studien/2022/embargoed/save-the-children-summary-wherever-we-go-someone-do-us – Damage Report-092022.pdf).
See illustrations here (https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2S8OPD_O).
Under © Save the Children, the material may also be used free of charge for passing on to third parties.
About Save the Children:
In the post-war year of 1919, British social reformer and child rights activist Eglantine Jebb founded Save the Children to save children in Germany and Austria from famine. Today, what is now the largest independent child rights organization in the world is active in about 120 countries. Save theChildren advocates for children in war, conflict and disaster. For a world that respects children’s rights, where all children can live healthy and safe lives and grow up and learn freely and independently – for over 100 years.
Save the Children registered association in Germany
Press Office – Susan Sawadogo
Phone: +49 (0) 30-27 59 59 79-120
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Original content from: Save the Children Deutschland eV, transmitted by aktuell news
Original message: https://www.presseportal.de/pm/106106/5319447