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Children without childhood: Shocking data on child labor in Thessaloniki

Children work from 6 to up 12 hours a day in the fields, in the construction, in car wash facilities, they wander around selling small items on the streets or they beg at traffic lights. They fall victims to exploitation by gangs dealing with illicit tobacco and drugs, they drive cars risking their lives and the lives of other refugees in order to trasnfer them inside Greece.

The data on child labor in Greece published by NGO “Arsis”, an association for the Social Support of Youth are shocking.

“They are children who do not live like children, they have to work to survive and they do not play, have prematurely lost or never acquired their childhood,” Arsis said in a statement on the occassion of the World Day Against Child Labor on June 12.

From the beginning of 2019 until May, ARSIS Street Work Groups – Youth Support Organization came into contact with about 550 children living on the streets of Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. Among them, were 450 unaccompanied minor refugees and 95 from Greece or other Balkan countries, that is from Bulgaria and Albania.

“They are children who consider work to be ‘normality’ since they grew up working in  their own countries working and to get to Greece they also traveled by working mainly on textile industry, in the fishing and tannery sectors. The risk is, therefore, to believe that child labor is allowed in our country, and to add to illegality and later as young adults to face heavy penalties,”said chief of Arsis legal service, Thomas Charalambides.

“Do not support child labor”

On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labor, ARSIS calls on citizens to help fight the phenomenon and organizes an awareness event on Wednesday, June 12th, from 6pm to 11pm at the “umbrellas” in Nea Paralia, Thessaloniki.

During the event, in a targeted awareness campaign for children of traffic lights, a group of ARSIS staff will be on main street traffic lights. They will wear masks that will indicate the name and age of a child and hand out at drivers leaflets with texts like “Were you violently awakened early in the morning to go to work when you were a child? No, Do not support child labor! ”

ARSIS leaflet: “Do not give money to children working on the streets, do not support child labor.”

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