MSF tends to a migrant patient | Credit: Marko Drobnjakovic
MSF tends to a migrant patient | Credit: Marko Drobnjakovic

A new Doctors Without Borders report, called Games of Violence, highlights the brutal treatment of migrant children by border authorities in the Balkans.

A new report by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has denounced the violence that continues to be carried out against children and young people by the EU members' border authorities and police on Serbia's borders with Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia.

The report includes medical and mental health evidence, as well as statements by patients.''For over a year our doctors and nurses have been hearing similar stories from youths who were beaten, humiliated and attacked by dogs in their desperate attempt to travel onwards'," said Andrea Contenta, who is responsible for humanitarian affairs of MSF in Serbia.

Border guards attacking kids

In the first six months of 2017, 92 percent of children and teenagers who were treated at MSF mental health clinics reported being physically abused by EU member states' police or border authorities, especially authorities in Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia. Almost half of them (48 percent) were victims of the Bulgarian authorities.

Moreover, from January to June 2017, MSF medical teams working in mobile clinics in Belgrade documented 62 incidents of intentional violence at the Hungarian border and 24 on the Croatian border. The vast majority of migrants cited the same pattern of beatings, dog bites and the use of irritant spray as part of systematic pattern of violence that has reported over the past two years, against people trying to cross into the European Union.

'Migrants beaten with sticks and forced to strip'

The report quoted young migrants who have suffered abuse in the Balkans. ''I saw with my very own eyes how anti-riot police hit people. Many were youths, teens and their faces were covered in blood. First they threw tear gas and then they broke into our room and hit everyone with batons. Many of us were injured'," a 30-year-old Afghan told MSF. Another Afghan national, 15, recounted what had happened to him: ''[I was] captured by the Croatian police when I was almost at the border with Slovenia and beaten for a long time. They stripped me naked. It was very cold. They put me in the back of a car and took me back to Serbia. The clothes I am wearing now were given to me in Serbia'."

According to Contenta, ''it is shameful that some EU member states intentionally use violence to prevent children and youths from seeking asylum in the European Union. The only effect this has is to cause serious damage both physically and psychologically, making these youths even more vulnerable and pushing them into the hands of traffickers that the EU and member states say they want to fight."

 

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