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Europe’s Refugee Scandal – OPINION

Long-term educational and employment needs have historically been severely undervalued in humanitarian planning. But, as much as refugees need proper food, shelter, and health care today, they also need the knowledge and tools to build new lives and contribute to society tomorrow, whether in their home country or in a new one.

It has long been known that the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is plagued by overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and rampant violence, including riots that have left many injured.

But when aid workers reported in April that children as young as ten were attempting suicide, another tragic facet of the refugee crisis was highlighted: 30 million children around the world are currently displaced, many in appalling conditions. The crisis is not just putting them in danger today; it is threatening to destroy their futures.

In the Moria camp, children live in fear. Recent riots have displaced hundreds of camp residents and badly injured several. This is traumatizing for children who are with their families, but even more so for the many who are unaccompanied. Making matters worse, many children lack even basic shelter, with thousands of families crammed into cheap donated tents that often aren’t even waterproof. Last winter, three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to stay warm.

But the challenges these children face extend far beyond the short term. Even if refugee children eventually manage to get somewhere safe, their prospects are bleak, because most will never have a chance to go to school – a reality that will severely undermine their ability to find gainful employment.

At last count, there were 1,729 children in Moria, more than 1,000 of whom are of school age. The number recently increased as a huge surge in boat landings brought 834 new arrivals to the camp last week alone. None attends public school, and the Greek government has yet to allow them access to any of the formal education programs that were established for asylum seekers.      Continue Reading