Stop Imprisoning Child Refugees

Target: Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras

Goal: End the practice of detaining unaccompanied child refugees in unsanitary and often crowded cells.

Greek law enforcement has reportedly been detaining unaccompanied child refugees for months on end in crowded and unsanitary cells, often alongside unrelated adults. Under a Greek policy of “protective custody,” unaccompanied child refugees are subject to protective custody until safe accommodation can be found for them in the overburdened Greek shelter system. Children are not meant to be detained for more than 25 days unless under exceptional circumstances. The average length of detention for unaccompanied child refugees is currently estimated to be 40 days.

While it is unacceptable to leave unaccompanied children without protection, shelter, or education, housing them in crowded cells is not an appropriate solution. Furthermore, housing children in the same cell as unrelated adults is dangerous, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and violence. Demand that the Greek government end the practice of holding child refugees in cells and provide safe and appropriate accommodation for these children.


Dear Prime Minister Tsipras,

I was shocked to read the Human Rights Watch report regarding the prolonged detention of unaccompanied child refugees under your government’s policy of protective custody. Not only are children regularly held for periods exceeding maximum detention periods, but they are often held in crowded cells with unrelated adults. This system, which is supposed to protect them, makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

I recognize that the Greece faces an unprecedented refugee crisis and that the shelter system is overburdened. However, these children, who have faced unimaginable challenges reaching your country, need food, appropriate accommodation, and access to education and healthcare. I urge you to reform the protective custody system to ensure that unaccompanied child refugees are held in appropriate, and safe conditions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: MaximilianV

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