A recent report by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Serbia details how child refugees are being abused by border force officials all along the Balkan Route. The Balkan Route is a path—popular with Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees—that runs from Turkey into Greece, Bulgaria, and north toward Germany. Last year, the EU and Turkey placed extra border control forces and electric fences along the route to stop asylum seekers from reaching Western Europe—though thousands of people continue to attempt the journey every month.
The report covers the first six months of 2017 and finds that children on the Balkan Route are not only assaulted but also illegally deported after they're arrested. "In a real-life game of snakes and ladders," it's stated in the report, "human beings take one step forward and two steps back as they are forcedly moved from one place to another."
Of the children treated by MSF, just over 75 percent were assaulted by either state police or border force officials, while eight percent were hurt by traffickers. Most of them—the youngest only 12 years old—had visible signs of mistreatment, including knife and razor blade cuts, scars from severe beatings, and symptoms of dehydration and food deprivation. "At each border crossing, instead of fair and protection-sensitive border procedures," the report reads, "asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants are pushed back, robbed, beaten, humiliated, and attacked by dogs."
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