14:01 GMT08 August 2020
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    Refugee and migrant children in Greece and other Balkan states are at risk of suffering from respiratory and other serious illnesses due to the extreme cold weather conditions in the region, UNICEF said on Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Many refugees and migrants, including minors, in the region are being housed in shelters that are ill-equipped for winter, including tents. According to UNICEF, the overcrowding and poor insulation lead to the development and spread of illness.

    "Without proper shelter and warm clothing, young children are in real danger because of the severe weather… Infants and the very young generally have less body fat to insulate them against the cold, making them more susceptible to respiratory problems and potentially fatal viral and bacterial infections such as pneumonia and influenza," UNICEF Regional Health Advisor for Central and Eastern Europe Basil Rodriques said, as quoted by UNICEF.

    The organization also reiterated its call for those housed in overcrowded and poorly equipped camps on the Greek islands to be moved to the mainland.

    UNICEF has been providing warm clothes and footwear to migrants and refugees in Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Macedonia. Over the past year, UNICEF has also replaced Balkan child and family support hubs and mother and baby corners with winterized and heated prefabricated and permanent structures.

    Earlier in January, Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that refugees or migrants were no longer living in the cold as refugee camps and centers were provided with everything for winter, including prefabricated buildings.

    Since early 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants have been trying to reach EU member states through various routes, most commonly, via Italy, Greece and Balkan states. There are an estimated 23,700 refugee and migrant minors stranded in the region.

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