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Greece: 5,000 children exploited/UNICEF

Publish Date: 04 Dec 2003

Agence France-Presse English Wire

Some 5,000 minors, half of them from abroad, are forced to beg or prostitute themselves in Greece, the local office of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Thursday.

"The figures do not include domestic labour" affecting children of families working in farming or tourism, Greek UNICEF spokesman Ilias Liberis told AFP.

Most of those exploited under 18 years of age come from Albania, according to child advocacy groups.

Liberis said some 3,000 Albanian minors are victims of a slave traffic towards Greece and Italy, Liberis said.

UNICEF released the figures ahead of a telethon against child trafficking on Monday.

UNICEF representative in Albania Pierre Ferry urged Greece in November to set up a legal framework to deal with the problem.

Thomas Charalambidis, of the non-governmental organization Arsis, denounced the fact that young Albanian illegals arrested in Greece are treated the same way as adult illegal immigrants.

"The police expell them without first alerting the proper authorities in charge of these kids," he said.