Child Rights Helpdesk website

“Get children out of the refugee camp on Samos as quickly as possible”

4 October 2019

Martine Goeman, legal advisor at Defence for Children, is in Greece. She is visiting children and their families in the refugee camps on Samos. Goeman: “Children, with or without parents, who are staying in the camp on Samos need to be transferred to reception facilities elsewhere in Europe as quickly as possible. This is not a place for children. Their rights are being violated.”

Martine Goeman sees a lot of small children and babies in the camp: “29% of the total 5.100 refugees and migrants that are currently staying on Samos, is a child. The circumstances in the refugee camp are inhuman. The smell is overwhelming, you see trash everywhere, there are barely any toilets and there is no electricity. Also, there is a lack of food, drinks and medical care.”

20 girls in one container

 The center of the camp is blocked by high fences. In there, the police is present and there is a container where 20 unaccompanied girls are staying. The girls have fled their countries alone and within the camp they are at risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence. Martine Goeman: “One of the girls tells that they take turns sleeping, because only four dirty mattresses fit into the way too small container.”

Rats crossing your feet

 In the camp, Martine Goeman sees a lot of tents, often self-made with some blankets or pieces of tarp that are tied together. Next to that are a few containers where unaccompanied minors are staying. The containers stand on dusty rocks, the floor of the container is largely broken and the toilet does not get cleaned and is too dirty to use. Martine Goeman: “in one of the containers we talked to a 16-year-old boy. He fled from the war in Syria and tells that he has already been waiting in the camp for five months for his asylum interview, under horrible circumstances. While talking to the boy, giant rats cross the container and even our feet.”

Subtitles available in English.