Nearly six thousand children in Greece live on the street. Little girls and boys who sell tissues and flowers, clean car windows at traffic lights or beg passers-by to make a living.
These children are mainly from other countries such as Bulgaria and Romania and have come to Greece with their families to work. Meni Christidou, a social worker at the independent NGO PRAKSIS that operates especially in Athens and Thessaloniki, talked to ANAmpa about the problem of child labor that has been exacerbated due to the economic crisis.
The number of these children rises at Christmas and Easter, because during these periods the sentiments of care and offer towards young beggars are much stronger.
The majority of the children who live on the street are from 5 to 12 years old. In Athens and Thessaloniki they usually work downtown because the center is more crowded.
“Very often,” as Christidou says, “we can see children near churches or in the regions near the center. In the evening, children can be found not in the center of the city but in places where there are a lot of bars and restaurants and people go to have fun”.
Patras has the same problem of children living on the street, but these children are mostly immigrants who try to leave from the city and the country with their families.
According to Christidou, “some children work and beg on the street in order to contribute to the family income. However, most of them work hard and give their earnings to exploitation networks. The merchants of this modern human trafficking often transfer the children from one region to another in order not to be noticed by the police”.