Children refugees need help

Around 700 refugee children are arriving every week without their parents in Sweden, many injured in accidents and some bearing the physical and psychological scars of beatings or rape by their smugglers.
Usually the minors, mainly teenage boys, complete their long journey from the Middle East, Africa and Asia by crossing the Oresund bridge from Denmark, and seek help in the first Swedish city they reach, Malmo.
Staff at a Malmo transit center, who care for unaccompanied children during their first few days in the country, describe how some arrive with head injuries or broken bones.

Often these are suffered when they fall from trucks on which they are trying to stow away. But the injuries can also be inflicted by the very smugglers that their parents have paid to take them to safety in northern Europe.
Some children, for example, suffer from hearing loss after they have been slapped over the ears during a journey which includes a lethally dangerous sea crossing to Europe on rafts or in boats, many of which are not seaworthy.
"We have also received many who came via Libya, including people who have been on the capsized boats," said the center's manager Kristina Rosen. One unaccompanied child saw his brother drown in the Mediterranean; staff at the center estimate more than half the children need psychological care at some point.
In proportion to its population, Sweden receives more asylum seekers than any other European nation and numbers are rising sharply, with many fleeing the civil war in Syria.
The country, which has welcomed refugees since the 1970s, also takes in around a third of all unaccompanied minors arriving in the European Union and their numbers are expected nearly to double this year to 12,000.
Officials say parents can often afford the cost of smuggling only one family member. So they send one child to Sweden, often to avoid recruitment as fighters by militant groups such as Islamic State, which has overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq, or Somalia's al-Shabaab.
Less than a third of the unaccompanied children are ever reunited with their parents.


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