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Society

Greece’s Schools Have 12,500 Refugee Students in Class

May 31, 2019

There are some 12,500 refugee children in  Greek public schools this year, according to a UNESCO annual report that was presented at the Education Ministry in Athens, with the country trying to deal with more than 70,000 people in detention centers and camps, including about 15,000 on islands near Turkey.

“The total number of registered refugee students at Greek public schools at this moment amounts to around 12,480,” said Deputy Education Minister Meropi Tzoufi, Kathimerini reported.

She added that all educational units attended by refugees are manned by psychologists who provide support to refugee children and their families as some Greek parents have resisted the integration fiercely.

Tzoufi also said that, since 2017, Greece has been participating in a pilot program to register and recognize the academic credentials of refugee children.

In 2016, police had to escort refugee children to school in the northern Greek village of Profitisl, as local parents protested against the launch of a national program to educate migrant youngsters,.

Around 100 police formed a corridor to protect the 40 children, who seemed puzzled at the events, said Agence France-Presse. A gang of Greek parents who had earlier padlocked the school gate – waved Greek flags and hurled insults at local education authorities.

“Our children will be raped and then, who will take responsibility?” one parent shouted.

“We are told these children have been vaccinated but we don’t believe them,” another said.

That happened as some 1,500 refugee children at the time were enrolled in 20 schools nationwide but protests, while scattered, have continued, including on the island of Chios near Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending more refugees to Greek islands during a largely suspended swap deal with the European Union.

Dozens of parents and school children guardians on the island of Chios in October, 2018 signed a petition asking that refugee children not be allowed in schools there.

Most of the refugees are seeking asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to help take an overload from Greece during the country’s more than nine-year-long economic crisis.

They had gone to Turkey as a jumping-off point to reach the EU through Greece, fleeing war and strife in the homelands, especially the civil war in Syria but have been shunned by the bloc, with growing populism in countries such as Hungary barring them outright.

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