"We will promptly set up accommodation facilities for 4,000 children who currently survive in terrible conditions. Each facility will accommodate small groups for them to live and be nurtured as appropriate in their tender age. They will receive the help of teachers, doctors and psychologists as well as warmth that they, unfortunately, do not receive from parents," Mitsotakis said during a cabinet discussion.
He then vowed to take the underage homelessness problem under personal control, adding that the children must be prevented from becoming victims of or getting involved in exploitation and crime.
"Those criminals who dare to torture and trade children must know that the government will prosecute them without mercy and punish them without mercy, liberating innocent beings from their hands," the Greek prime minister said.
The program is designed to transfer 2,500 minors from refugee camps and 1,300 homeless children from the streets, where they are currently struggling to survive, to facilities for long-term accommodation and care. According to government representatives speaking to journalists, each new facility will also provide legal advice for children with relatives in other countries who want to reunite with their families. Additionally, the "unaccompanied minor" status will be codified so that such children can apply for asylum and have their rights protected.
The program will be partially financed by the European Union, the official added.
There are approximately 60 of such facilities in Greece at the moment, providing for close to 1,200 children. Mostly, they are run by NGOs and under the auspices of the International Organization for Migration.
Greece is among the European countries that have faced the greatest numbers of refugee arrivals over the past years. The Greek reception facilities became overcrowded long ago, but people continue to arrive, thousands of unaccompanied children among them. In September, hundreds of such children initiated a violent conflict in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, demanding transfer to the mainland.