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Child refugees forced to sell their bodies for $16

A young girl holds the fence in kara Tepe camp in Lesvos, Greece [Anna Pantelia/Save the Children]
A young girl holds the fence in kara Tepe camp in Lesvos, Greece [Anna Pantelia/Save the Children]

A new report by Dr. Vasileia Digidiki and Professor Jacqeline Bhabha of Harvard University reveals that unaccompanied child refugees in Greece trying to reach northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys.

Read: Trapped in Greece, refugees are suffering severe mental health issues

The price of a sexual transaction with a child rarely exceeds €15 ($16), a fraction of the cost to pay a smuggler to take them on the journey, leaving the children open to repeated abuse.

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Of the approximately 1.2 mn migrants passing through Greece since 2015, almost 480,000 have been children. Around 21,300 of these are stranded in Greece, 2,300 unaccompanied. These children do not have access to specialised camps and centres which would help keep them safe and so are at risk of exploitation and violence.

It is imperative that national, regional and international bodies address this serious child protection emergency by rethinking their approach to one of the most vulnerable populations of migrants, and by immediately allocating adequate human and financial resources to reverse the current situation,

says co-author Bhabha.

A dress made from a UNHCR tent previously used to home refugees in Europe to raise awareness of the plight of those fleeing conflict around the world. Pictures from Dubai, UAE on 22 March 2017.

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