Home WORLD NEWS A teen walked 4,000 miles to reach the West. He’s turned to...

A teen walked 4,000 miles to reach the West. He’s turned to sex to survive.


Huda, 38, said her son has stopped going to school and she is concerned about the people he is spending his time with.

“I’m watching my boy be destroyed and I can’t do anything,” she said. “They’re not good people in Omonia Square. He says, ‘Please save me, I want to go to another country,’ but how can I?”

‘An extremely difficult situation’

Smetopoulos said survival sex involving asylum-seekers became evident on Athens’ streets around the beginning of 2016. The countries north of Greece had started closing their borders, transforming what was once a transit country into a host nation.

The country is currently home to around 3,000 unaccompanied minors, the official term for underage asylum-seekers who travel on their own. Over 95 percent of them are boys, according to official data.

Greece only has space for around 1,000 unaccompanied children in shelters, while the other 2,000 are on the waiting list. Many of those not in shelters live on the street, or if they’re lucky they live in camps or hotels provided by the U.N.

Those over 18 are not eligible for places in the shelters and for the most part are left to fend for themselves.

In the shelters, minors have access to lawyers, psychologists, social workers and teachers. Many shelters said they also warn youngsters about the dangers of certain areas of Athens and the importance of using contraception during sex. But even here they are not necessarily safe. According to social workers, some minors living in shelters and camps are also believed to engage in survival sex.

 Social worker Tassos Smetopoulos has spent years helping vulnerable people living on the streets of Athens. Marko Drobnjakovic / for NBC News

The Ministry of Civil Protection, which is in charge of the Greek police, said officers had investigated allegations of sexual exploitation of underage asylum-seekers and migrants in central Athens, but had found no evidence of criminal groups exploiting children for prostitution.

Resources are also an issue. In August, the Greek government took over the management and financing of the reception and integration of refugees. Since then shelters and humanitarian organizations have complained of delays in funding.

At the same time many international organizations and charities began downsizing or withdrawing their operations in the country.

Dimitra Arvanitaki, the director of a shelter near Omonia Square, said her charity had been unable to pay staff this year because of a lack of government funds and could not rely on the generosity of local businesses much longer. “It’s an extremely difficult situation,” she said.

 Khasim, right and Fazul, left, often spend hours at a time waiting for customers. Marko Drobnjakovic / for NBC News

Several organizations also pointed out that the Greek population’s willingness and ability to donate to refugees has begun to wane.

“Donations for refugee crisis are running short,” said Zoe Kokalou, a spokeswoman for the Greek charity Arsis (Association for the Social Support of Youth), which supports vulnerable young people and runs the shelter near Omonia Square. “People are fed up with three years of extreme crisis on the part of refugees and more than six years of economic crisis.”

Greece has been relying on funds from three international bailouts since 2010. In return for the money, the country has had to impose strict austerity measures, including spending and hiring cuts across most sectors.

Days after NBC News left Athens, Khasim says he was arrested at an airport trying to leave the country on a fake passport. It was his fifth attempt to leave Greece.

“I have very bad luck,” he wrote via Facebook Messenger.

Two days later, he got in touch again. “I’m tired of my life, I wish I could get out of this misfortune,” he said.

This time the message came with a picture. It showed the northwest corner of Omonia Square and in the background were the yellow phone booths.

Article Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/young-migrants-trapped-greece-find-life-west-isn-t-what-n863801?cid=public-rss_20180416