Human Rights Watch published a report Monday that indicates that large numbers of children are fleeing war-torn countries, often traveling alone, due to abuses such as military recruitment, child labor and marriage, denial of education, and police brutality. The children tend to be boys, often from Syria and Afghanistan. According to the report, 6,100 children sought to migrate to Greece in 2014, of which about 1,000 were traveling without their parents.
Child casualties in Afghanistan increased by nearly 50 percent in 2014 and, according to Save the Children, at least 3,465 schools in Syria have been destroyed since the war began in 2011. Many of the asylum-seeking children travel to Greece on unstable ships, and are detained for weeks as authorities search for where to place them.
A 17-year-old Afghan detained on Lesbos told HRW, "It feels like I'm in jail…Last night, people entered by room and took everything. They say children should be protected, but it means nothing.”
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