UN sets up 20 protection spots for children, families on Balkan route

The United Nations are setting up a string of protection centres for unaccompanied children and families who are migrating from Greece through the Balkans, the UN Refugee Agency and the UN children's fund said Friday.

The 20 hubs would serve as safe spaces where children and parents could play, rest and receive counselling, the UN aid agencies said, adding that children who are travelling alone are at risk of sickness, violence and trafficking.

In addition, the centres would serve to reunite children and their parents, as many families become separated amid chaos at borders or when boarding buses, a UNICEF spokesman said in Geneva.

"The lives of children on the move have been turned upside down, they've faced turmoil and distress every step of the way," said UNICEF's European refugee coordinator, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

Four hubs are already operational on Greek islands and on both sides of the Greek-Macedonian border. Others are to be opened in the coming three months in these two countries, as well as in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

Last year, more than 90,000 unaccompanied or separated children applied for asylum in Europe, mostly in Germany and Sweden, according to UN figures.

Of the people who are currently crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece, 60 per cent are woman and children.

Last update: Fri, 26/02/2016 - 13:53

More from Europe

Danish queen writes that residency doesn't make a person Danish

Living in Denmark is not enough to make a person Danish, writes Danish Queen Margrethe II in her new book, a...

Italy ups the ante in dispute with EU over deficit plans

Rejecting Italy's spending plans would "be the beginning of the end" for the European Union, Italian Economy...

World's highest cathedral at risk amid stream of public urination

A stream of men relieving themselves on the world's highest cathedral - the Ulm Minister in the southern German city...

Italy coastguard: 14 dead, 5,700 survivors in sea migrant rescues

Fourteen bodies have been recovered and about 5,700 people have been saved in Mediterranean Sea migrant rescues...

German expert hopes Britain and EU "come to their senses" on Brexit

A German economic expert has called on Britain and the European Union to "come to their senses" and back away from a...